Jesus Is Lord (But Not King)

Jesus Is Lord (But Not King) February 15, 2019
The Gospel was once considered a threat to those who held political power.
When Paul and the other apostles started preaching about Jesus there were often riots because they were “….all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” [Acts 17:7]
There was no doubt about it. This Gospel was dangerous.
Jesus was a serious threat to status quo.
City officials and the crowds were thrown into turmoil over this subversive man. [See Acts. 17:8]
Those who accepted his message were arrested and tortured because of it.
Many went to their death because they refused to hail Caesar as Lord. They were burned alive shouting, “We have no King but Jesus!”
The line between following Christ and following the political systems of this world used to be unmistakable.
But not anymore.
Today, those who claim to follow Jesus may loudly proclaim that “Jesus Is Lord!” but they don’t mean that Jesus stands opposed to political powers.
They may have a “King Jesus” bumper sticker on their Toyota, but they don’t act as if Jesus is their choice for ruling their world, or their life.
A Christian in the first century knew vividly that their loyalty to Caesar was forfeited now that they had surrendered everything to their new King, Jesus.
Early Christian teachers spoke often about this shift in loyalty.

As Tertullian wrote to the Romans around the year 195:

“In us, all zeal in the pursuit of glory and honor is dead. So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings, nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than the affairs of State.”

Origen also wrote to Celsus in an attempt to explain the peculiar Christian practice of noninvolvement with Roman politics, saying:

“It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God – for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right.”

He also explains to Celsus that those who follow Christ recognize another, higher authority than the State and that because of this they urge their brightest and best to apply their wisdom and talents and qualities of leadership to further the more urgent and necessary work of the Kingdom of God:

We recognize in each state the existence of another national organization [the Church], founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches. Those who are ambitious of ruling we reject; but we constrain those who, through excess of modesty, are not easily induced to take a public charge in the Church of God. And those who rule over us well are under the constraining influence of the great King, whom we believe to be the Son of God, God the Word. And if those who govern in the Church, and are called rulers of the divine nation — that is, the Church — rule well, they rule in accordance with the divine commands, and never suffer themselves to be led astray by worldly policy.”

To Origen, and Tertullian, and every other Christian in those first 300 years of the Untangled Church, the issue was clear and the differences were distinct: Those who were citizens of the Kingdom of God were uninterested in the politics of men.

Why? Because they already had a King. His name was Jesus. They had already pledged their loyalty to another nation. It was called the Kingdom of God.

Try to imagine if Jesus were the King of your life in the same way that He was King over the lives of those early Christians who defied Caesar to the point of death and who pledged allegiance to “another King, one called Jesus.”
What would that look like? How would it change the way you live today?
I wonder, if those early Christians could see the Church in America today, what would they conclude?
Would they assume that, to us, Jesus is really only “King” in a metaphorical sense?
Or would they see a Church that was under the absolute authority of Christ?
Would they see Christians who loved their enemies, welcomed the stranger, cared for the hungry, showed compassion to the prisoner, and forgave those who spoke against them?

Or is Jesus only King in a metaphorical sense?

If Jesus is your King, are you putting His words into practice?
Or are you still searching for another political ruler who can provide security, and comfort, and prosperity?
Jesus was pretty clear about the fact that we cannot serve two masters.
Cast your ballot.

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Daniel G. Johnson

    This line of reasoning should no longer be employed.

    Origen and Tertullian along with their patristic colleagues were full up guilty of anti-Judaism that led to the persecution, torture, and genocide of millions. So. If folks have genocide on their hands, it don’t matter what rhetorical niceties they engendered for print vis a vis comparative loyalties to Jesus or Caesar.

    There tends to be three stages of early church myth context: New Testament Church; Patristic era; and then the Constantinian Church. Where oh where did it all go wrong? Douglas John Hall has argued the Constantinian option forever. Eh. I say the New Testament Church.

    The thing is: When they taught us Historical Critical method in seminary back in the 1980s, I guess it never dawned on those just cashing in on their 1960’s draft-dodging graduate education that down the road those made to learn Historical Critical would turn that beast on any text. Oh why the hell not? lol.

    So, really? You’re gonna do a thematized blog article or sermon cherry picking patristic texts, or allusions to texts, and just plumb expect not to have those texts subjected to the same rigor of criticism that the New Testament is?

    I think: People today should stop using cherry picked historical memes as a crutch and full out take brand new moral responsibilities in the very present.

    Of course Jesus would have opposed Trump. Of course. So what?

    Of all those who ever asked regarding Jesus: Is he the Messiah….

    Jesus would ask back: “Are you?”

  • These are not “cherry-picked” quotes. Try to find any early Christians who did not agree with this exactly this same idea that Christ was King [and Caesar was not] or even that violence was acceptable for those who follow Christ. There is a unanimous voice for 300+ years. And you are smart enough to know that.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    (sigh). A historical critical perspective includes questioning the agenda of texts, not just the question of whether a particular text is authentic. In this context, a proper historical critical question is whether the writers of the idea concerned here had a particular self-serving agenda. So, it’s a moral question. It is a common assertion by some today to question if these writers exaggerated persecution of Christians by the Romans in order to sell the cause on the basis of a claimed nobility. That asserted nobility is rightfully questioned in a context where Christian writers highlight asserted Roman cruelty toward Christians, but at the same time Christians impose and are complicit with cruelty toward Jews. The cherry picking has to do with bracketing out of the obscenity of the adversos judeos agenda of not only the church fathers but also much of the New Testament (community).

    Short form: I could care less that Origen thought Jesus to be king when at the same time Origen imposed the deicide charge on Jews consigning them to genocide. Jesus should give Origen his damn crown back. Better that Jesus wear the tallit.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Are the churches going to give up their tax breaks and housing allowances? They’re from “Caesar”, so why not?

  • Exrayeye

    This concept is hard to follow for those who for 1700 years have been trained to follow a church that broadsided Jesus and his Kingdom by realigning itself with State, the world of man. Two opposing cultures, one selfish, one selfless, uniting. One had to change and it wasn’t the selfish State. The Church whored itself to Babylon (as Peter called Rome) and has had to teach other than the Gospel of the Kingdom ever since for fear of exposing it’s heresy to the will of God. Thankfully scripture shows the opposing principles hidden in plain sight within the scriptures in the only Gospel Jesus called His own

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Well Jesus and his beloved Apostle, John warned us about the “Harlot of Babylon”.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Quote from the Article: “Try to imagine if Jesus were the King of your life in the same way that He was King over the lives of those early Christians who defied Caesar to the point of death and who pledged allegiance to ‘another King, one called Jesus.'”

    It well may be coming to the “point of death” in the here and now. – Revelation 13:7-8, Revelation 13:16-17, John 16:2
    I believe that TЯ卐m₽ is the Beast … Yeah, that Beast, as in the Mark of the Beast!

    Consider for a moment a quote from a former “insider” of the TЯ卐m₽ Administration … Omarosa Manigault:

    • “Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to the most powerful man in the universe.”

    This pretty much says it all about TЯ卐m₽ >–> the Beast … who has “Risen from out of the sea … ” – Revelation 13:1
    From my studies in prophesies, from several Christian denominations, ALL have said that the “sea” represents “all nations, tribes and tongues” … as in the Melting Pot, which is the United States of America.

    For several decades, along with my “In Jesus’ Name … Amen.” my prayer was “Come quickly Lord Jesus.”
    The rising of the Beast had to happen before our Lord and Savior returns for his true children.

    In the days of Caesar, no one had the ability to destroy the entire Earth and all life on this planet. But today, with weapons of mass destruction and that hideous monster in the Oval Office, that is no longer the case. Thus, the prophesies are vividly possible … and for the first time entirely plausible.

    This of course, is just the beginning pains of the travail ushering in the Tribulation and the End of Days.
    Many more prophecies in Revelation 13 have yet to come to pass. But each passing day brings us closer.

  • Exrayeye

    Don’t forget about all of it’s offspring to this day.

  • jekylldoc

    Well, once you have seen that these apocalyptic decodings don’t tell us much, I hope you will turn your attention to the fact that the end is always near. If it isn’t genocide of Native Americans, then it’s machine guns, poison gas and trench warfare. The pursuit of conquest and domination are spiritual suicide, and we are always lemmings closer to the cliff than we realize. Our Dear Leader’s narcissism is our narcissism, in concentrated form. And the Risen One always leads us to the Heavenly City. But will we follow?

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Like I said, never before has there been a Beast/Leader who had the ability to destroy the entire planet … sooo those “apocalyptic decodings” tell us plenty about what time it is in mankind’s history.

    The rest of your post I salute and give a hearty AMEN!

  • Chari McCauley

    True. No King could measure up to His knowledge.