Is God a king or a congressman?

The scriptures speak of God as a king. Christians in the ancient East and medieval West had no trouble with this image. But it is hard for us moderns, who have little or no working experience with monarchy, to imagine God as king.

Instead, we tend to think of God as a congressman.

What does a congressman do? Primarily, he represents us. He secures special benefits for the citizens of his district. We write him when we are irritated by events in the world. If we face an intractable problem, we contact him as a means of last resort.

The king has subjects; the congressman has voters. The king rules; the congressman caters. We expect the congressman to do what we want, and if we don’t like him, we can vote him out of office.

Of course this is less about God than us. The real point here is not that we are unable to imagine God as king — though that’s true enough. The point is that we think we deserve to be catered to, that we are somehow entitled to his service.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • garbo77

    Hi Joel and everyone!

    I agree Joel, that we are a people of gmeee, gmeee, gmeee. However, we have a Daddy God that wants to bless, us as we should want to bless our children. However, we are probably making a wrong choice to bless a disobedient child.

    Matthew 6:31-34 Jesus tells us “Therefore, do not worry, saying ‘what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

    Psalm 37:3-4 Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Also, Mark 11:22-24 and 1 John 5:14 and other scriptures that explain God wanting to bless us.

    When we place Almighty God in the center of all we do, then we have the right to expect His blessings! However, please, understand 1 John 5:14; it might not be God’s will to give us what we want right now or what we are requesting might not ever be what God feels is best for us. And let’s face it; God knows what is best for us. We should choose not to desire what we know God does not want to give to us!

    So, let us all be thankful for all our creator God has given to us and always remember the pain that our Savior went through to shed His blood, die and be resurrected to defeat the devil and give us eternal life to spend with God.

    If you haven’t received Jesus the Christ as your Savior, God’s Holy Bible tells us how to in Romans 10:9-10 and 1 John 1:9. After receiving Jesus as your Savior, I recommend first reading John chapter one and John 5:19 to end of chapter.

    God’s Blessings on You and Yours!

    Dr. Gary

    • Joel J. Miller

      I agree that God is a God of blessing. Praise him for it. But as I said at the end of the piece, this is less about God than us. The problem I’m interested in is our ego-centrism and sense of entitlement.

  • kevin kirkpatrick

    Good post Joel. A very short one that touches on a huge topic. I have been reading the most amazing book called Gifts of the Desert By Kiriakos Markides, and in it, Bishop Maximos talks about the three stages of spiritual growth, as passed down from the Fathers of the Churchs. 1. Slaves of God. These are people who are Christians primarily out of fear of hell or other punishments. 2. The employees of God. This is where most people are, and I think it is a better metaphor than the Congressman one. This idea is that we look at God like a good employer-if we put in our hours, we expect our just reward. If we are good employees, we will get our justly deserved paycheck. 3. The children of God. Ideally, we will see God like a Father. I like the Father image better than King, as you are correct in saying King doesn’t speak much to us today. I can think of the King of Saudi and the King of Jordan, and I don’t picture God being like either of them!. Jesus even told us to pray to ABBA, or Daddy. In stead of serving God out of fear, or expectation of reward, we just want to be close to Him because we love Him. I see this in my own son. He just lights up when I get home and all is well with his world when daddy is around. This is the relationship I want to have with God. And like a good Father, I know he will provide for me, but because he is all knowing, it will be what I NEED and not what I simply WANT. And what I need is to be less attached to the world, and my ego, and more attached to Him. In any case, I can’t recommend reading Gifts of the Desert enough. It is mostly conversations with the semi-humanist professor who wrote the book and Bishop Maximos, who is a former Athonite monk. it has the best exegisis of the mystical/spiritual side of the Church I have ever read, and in the most casual and readable way.


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