Regardless of our eschatologies, one thing is certain: Jesus Christ has already begun His reign over the earth. How could it be otherwise? He crushed the skull of the Serpent at the Place of the Skull (Calvary); He defeated sin by His perfect life; He rose victorious over death in His Resurrection; and at His Ascension He was seated at the right hand of the Father where He has begun His reign. It would make no sense for Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to have said, “It is finished,” only to realize that after 2000 years His reign had not even begun!
The book of Revelation must therefore be read in the indisputable light of Christ’s victory. But since we are united to Jesus Christ, this victory is also our victory, and not just in the future (for Jesus Christ is the One Who Was, Who Is, and Who Is to Come). We are already a nation of kings and priests, which means that already we act as kings and priests.
With Jesus Christ, we have priestly sacrifices that we must make. Like Jesus Christ, the sacrifice we make to God is the holocaust (“whole burnt offering”) of ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable sacrifice before God. As the Body of Jesus Christ, we are already the Temple where He dwells and don’t need to wait for heaven to experience His presence and blessing. We are the priests in this holy Temple, and we, like Jesus, are also the sacrifice.
But we are also kings, even now. St. Paul assures us that we are seated in the heavenlies with Jesus right now (Ephesians 2:6), which must mean that we are participating in His rule and His kingdom, right now. The song of the inhabitants of heaven is, paradoxically, a song of the reign of Christ on the earth through us: He has “made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”
Why don’t we think of ourselves as kings, and why don’t we see Christ’s reign on earth? Because like the 1st century Jews and even the disciples, we are looking for an earthly kingdom on the earth, when Jesus is offering a heavenly one. When Jesus taught, both by word and by deed, that the King was here and had initiated His kingdom, how was that Kingdom manifested? Not by political power but by the teaching and preaching of the Word, by healing, and by lives transformed from being slaves of Satan and sin to being slaves of Christ and righteousness.
So Christ is ruling, and we are to rule as kings on the earth, even now. But how? I believe that we rule as kings with Christ by wisely and righteously ruling over that part of His kingdom which He has entrusted to us. Again, some of us may not see this kingdom, which is tragic because then we will never know how or what to rule.
One meaning of Jesus’ words “The kingdom of heaven is within you” is that because the King is now in you, if you are a Christian, then so is His kingdom. You are marked, especially in baptism, as being His territory and a part of His kingdom. But you and your life are the primary part of His kingdom over which He has appointed you to rule with Him.
You have an inheritance from God which is represented by the material possessions with which He has blessed you. How well have you been ruling over the material blessings of your life? How much of the King’s treasure have you hoarded for yourself or spent on yourself, and how much have you used for the purposes of His kingdom?
You have been given the skills and abilities and gifts and talents to be able to rule with Christ as a wise and loving and righteous ruler. How much have those gifts and talents been used to advance the kingdoms of men and how much to advance the Kingdom of Christ?
If you have been blessed with children, how well have you been ruling over them in love to train them to be kings and priests in the Kingdom?
Most especially, as an underlord in the Kingdom, how well have you been living by the rules of the Kingdom, especially humility before the Lord of Lords? For the way to reign in Christ’s kingdom is to serve in love.
Our calling this morning, then, is to manifest Christ’s kingdom on earth, here, today. You have been given a throne and judgment has been given to you (verse 4). You have been given the privilege of reigning on the earth with Jesus Christ and ministering in His Kingdom this very day. And now it’s time to live today as if all these things were true, because they are.
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
- Sing the 4th verse of “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”
Blest inhabitants of Sion, washed in the redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on, makes them priests and kings to God.
‘Tis his love his people raises, over self to reign as kings:
And as priests, his solemn praises each for a thank-off’ring brings.
- What are some ways that you can begin to think of yourself as being a king in God’s Kingdom?
Resolution: I resolve to find one area of Christ’s Kingdom in my life that is in disorder and to rule it more wisely today.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson