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Thy Will Be Done, On Earth…

July 13, 2012

Jesus is Lord! Can I get an “amen?” Of course I can, because most Christians believe this. They also believe that salvation means Christians are somehow united to Christ in His death and resurrection. The implications of these two beliefs, though, are often neglected or misunderstood by the majority of Christians – especially American Christians. Our worship practices and lifestyles do not normally reflect the truths that these doctrines proclaim and because God chooses to work through His people, when we don’t obey His commands, then the world does not mature the way it’s supposed to. It’s popular for Christians – especially conservative ones – to blame everything from the media, to politicians, to liberals for the problems in today’s society… just take a look on Facebook. This is not the case, though. I want to maintain in this post that these problems are symptoms of a greater problem – a problem that is the fault of the church and can only be corrected by the church.

What does it mean when we say that Christ is King? Is this merely a title that refers to His future reign that will happen when Satan is finally defeated? Does this refer to His heavenly reign, but will one day refer to His earthly reign when it finally occurs? If Christ is King, then it means that certain events have already taken place. It means that Christ has defeated sin and Satan. Here’s the problem: if this is true, then it can’t mean that Satan is ruler of this world. This may sound obvious, but if we’re going to explore this topic, then we have to come to terms with the popular view of our time – the one that views this world as evil, growing worse every day, where the only job the church has is to proclaim the gospel to as many people as possible before God raptures His church (It’s gonna be any day now!) away from this mess and eventually defeats Satan and Christ begins His reign for a thousand years. This can’t be if Christ is already King. And the Bible says He is.

The most obvious verse for me is found in I Timothy 6:15. Here, Paul is exhorting Timothy to hold fast and persevere until the coming of Jesus Christ, who is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” This is a title that Jesus already possesses. He acquired this title when He conquered death through His resurrection and ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father – this is kingly action. Satan ruled this world ever since Adam failed and gave it to him in the garden, but at the resurrection, Jesus became the new King. This is why Jesus is the greater Adam. Jesus is also the greater Solomon. The connection between King David and King Jesus is all over the Bible (Son of David), but before there was Jesus, there was Solomon. Solomon, the wisest and richest person on all the earth. He started out as a good king. In fact, Solomon was the one who built God’s temple – that grand and beautiful structure where God dwelt and met with His people. But Solomon fell. Hard. Jesus didn’t. Jesus became the true “Son of David,” the greater Solomon. He also built a greater temple. It was at Jesus’ death that the church (the true temple) was created. Solomon ruled the world, but instead of using the temple to draw the nations to God (as was always the reason for Israel’s existence), he allowed the world to pollute the temple with idolatry. Now Jesus rules the world, but instead of bringing the nations to His temple, He sends the temple to the nations – He renews the world with clean water – with the gospel.

Colossians tells us that Jesus died on the cross to reconcile the heavens and earth in Himself. Reconciliation is a very pregnant word that usually gets used in a very limited way. Normally it gets used as a synonym with a word like “salvation,” in the sense that these words (along with redemption, conversion, and born again) refer to the fact that we get to go to heaven because Jesus died for our sins. While that is one aspect of reconciliation, it’s certainly not the whole picture. What Paul is trying to convey in Colossians is that in Christ, the world has been put back “to rights.” The world was supposed to be heaven on earth and, in fact, the garden of Eden was exactly that. Ideally, Adam would worship in the garden (the first sanctuary) and then go out and make the rest of the world conform to this picture. Of course, when Adam sinned, he was banned from the garden, which sort of put a damper on the whole dominion plan. But God was gracious – the mission was not scrapped. Israel was set apart to accomplish this mission. This mission was centered around a sanctuary (first the tabernacle, then the temple) and sacrifice… an order of worship. If Israel worshipped the proper way (sacrifice), then took dominion the proper way (obedience), the world would have conformed. They were a lesson on what NOT to do.

Of course, the true Israel, Jesus, did it the right way. And in His perfect obedience, substitutionary sacrifice, defeat of death, and ascension to heaven, He reconciled the world in Himself. Reconciled… “put to rights.” So, Jesus is Lord and we reign in Him. This means that if we worship properly and take dominion properly (one follows the other), the world will follow suit. This means that Satan has power only in as much as we allow him to have it… sometimes he has a little, sometimes he has a lot. Right now, in America, it appears he has a lot. We only have ourselves to blame. So, if we want to see homosexuality and other sexual sins come under judgment and fall by the wayside, what do we do? Elect conservative politicians? Picket courthouses? Post anti-gay memes on our Facebook page? Well, these things aren’t bad, they’re just ineffective apart from proper worship. If we want the world to understand and conform to proper of sexual union, we have to first practice regular spiritual union.

How many conservative churches actually practice weekly communion? I’d say a very, very, very small number. Biblically, the preaching of the Word and communion are linked. In the Old Covenant system, the peace offering (the only offering actually called a “sacrifice”) was where the people got to share a meal with God. Of course, this was still very impersonal, because it was through the death of an animal, a representative of the people. The animal was cut apart, and part of it (the fat) would ascend to God from the altar through smoke (a pleasing aroma), and part would be consumed by the family in their home. The animal, in essence, was “put back together” through it’s consumption. This was a sign of peace. This was the only offering where the people could eat any of the animal. We are told in Romans 12 to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. The Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4). This is exactly what the preaching of God’s Word does to us (when properly done). Many conservative churches do this well. What they don’t do is the second part of the equation. The putting back together part. That’s what the Lord’s Supper does – it unites us to Christ. When the preaching cuts us to pieces every Sunday, we need to be put back together. I wonder what it means when week in and week out, the majority of evangelical Christians are not being properly put back together. I know what it means for the rest of the world.


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