EDITOR’S NOTE: the following is a book excerpt from Bob Butler’s latest work, RENEW: A Missional Movement for the None, Done, and Undone.
As I was driving I saw read a church sign that said, “It doesn’t matter who is elected president, Jesus is still King!” At first, I thought it was a great statement. However, I began to think about the person who has never been to church, who has been burned by church or who is of a different faith. The sign makes no sense and furthers the divide.
Most people driving by probably didn’t know the Jewish nation, who was ruled by God, wanted a human ruler. They wanted to be like every other nation, so God gave them what they prayed for and it was a human king who failed. And then another. And another. And another. Until God had enough and it was time to set it right. Jesus, a true King: who serves instead of being served. A king who dies for His people and rises to make it clear who’s really in control and there’s more to live for than what we see and touch. A king who’s Holy Spirit lives on through those who claim Him.
The origin of all governance exists to better serve. As followers of Jesus, we must look to serve others. How? Let’s turn to the example as given to us in the accounts of His life.
- We show Jesus is king by supporting the system in place that governs our society even with its flaws. Jesus, even when brought to trial by both ruling bodies of his time (religious and secular), let his actions speak. (Luke 23). Jesus remained a good citizen even though He knew the corrupt nature of human governance and knew it would cost Him His life.
- We show Jesus is King by obeying the laws and standing up against disorder. Jesus obeyed the laws of his time — Jewish and Roman secular. Jesus encouraged obedience to the law and shunned disorder. A great lesson for us came from the ruling party’s question about paying taxes (Matt. 22:17-21). He knew it was a trap. If he said yes, He would be a traitor in favor of Rome. If He said no, He’d be a despised Roman sympathizer. The answer he gave kept him outside of both camps.
- We demonstrate Jesus is King by calling upon Him to confront the governing systems seemingly too large to change. Jesus knew and understood certain reforms cannot be altered using political or physical means. He used spiritual forces in these times. He was not a civil reformer. He was a redeemer of life.
- We show Christ is King when we live a life worthy of the image of God each of us bears. Jesus lived a life of nonresistance, but it wasn’t the doormat type of non-resistance. It was a resistance where the dignity of human life could not be questioned. The world in which we live requires our participation to ensure that society is not delivered to those who govern who would suppress the truth of all humans — we all are made in the image of God.
- We live the phrase “Jesus is King” when we support reforms to ensure the minority and the majority can be heard. Jesus laid the foundations for popular government. Jesus despised leadership that manipulates, compromises and lifts expediency above principle.
My wife and I watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge one weekend. It’s the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance, but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life — without firing a shot — to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa. It was a great movie about standing apart from the acceptable norm and standing against the pressure of those who subscribe to those societal norms
On the day of the Ukraine election, Yushchenko was in the lead but the ruling party tampered with the results. The state-run television station reported that the challenger Yushchenko has been decisively defeated.’ In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, a woman by the name of Natalia Dmitruk was providing a translation service for the deaf community. As the news presenter regurgitated the lies of the regime, Natalia Dmitruk refused to translate them. ‘I’m addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine,’ she signed. ‘They are lying and I’m ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our president.’ The deaf community sprang into gear. They text messaged their friends about the fraudulent results and as news spread of Dmitruk’s act of defiance, increasing numbers of journalists were inspired to likewise tell the truth. Over the coming weeks, the “Orange Revolution” occurred as a million people wearing orange made their way to the capital city of Kiev demanding a new election. The government was forced to meet their demands, a new election was held and Victor Yushchenko became president.
So, what are we to take from any election? Christ followers need to operate under an alternative understanding of governance, which offers both freedom and challenges. Freedom to consciously object to those items in conflict with Christian belief and accept the challenge that comes with freedom. Christians need to always offer positive solutions (not criticism) to stand with the hurting, assure the minorities among us and begin to ask the deepest questions of all: How can I serve so God’s will can be done and help others renew in their faith?
Check out pastor Butler’s other piece for Churchplants, here. Discover his new book, here.