The idea of Jesus as a king has something really valuable to add to our picture of Jesus. We can learn from teachers, then go home and rest. A first century Jewish person can visit a priest at the temple, and travel home to our towns. Jesus as the light can feel very philosophical, Jesus as healer sounds great when we need help, not so much when times are good. The list goes on, but none of them are encompassing all of life quite like giving allegiance to a new king.
But Bishop NT Wright, Bishop of Durham in England tells a great story that opens it right up, that I’ll tell you today.
Imagine that I am a small landholder living out in the countryside of England, about a thousand years ago in the middle ages. My little farm sits on the river that borders between two great estates, and for years the lord of the manor in whose land I actually live has had me completely under his thumb. In particular, whenever he has wanted to fight a war or even a local skirmish he has called on me to join up and fight on his side, and has threatened me with all sorts of unpleasant things (like burning my house down, for instance) if I don’t come along. What’s more, he has more than once made me get all my farm implements, nice peaceful things like hoes and spades, and take them down to the blacksmith to make them into swords and shields. So off we go to fight his wars, when really I ought to be looking after the farm.
Well, eventually I saw the light and moved just across the river into the other great estate. We built a new house, brought all our stuff across, and settled down (fortunately my old landlord was away at the time or he’d have tried to stop me).
The noble lord who owns the land where I now live gave us a wonderful welcome, and charges us a lot less rent than the other one. From time to time my old boss has come down and threatened to send his henchmen across and do, yes, all sorts of unpleasant things to me once more, but I think he’s secretly afraid of my new landlord.
I get on with my work and look after my farm. And my new master gets me to help with his work, which is quite different from the battles my old boss used to drag me into.
My new master is building schools and hospitals, especially for the really poor people, and sometimes he asks me to bring my tools and help in the work. And if someone’s in special need — a death in the family, a fire, animals sick, whatever – he asks me to help out in this way or that.
Sometimes of course it’s an effort, but I’m glad to do it, especially for him.
This story makes the point about Christianity that we have such a hard time grasping today.
Christianity is not just a new way of being religious, like a way to add something new to our already busy lives, like a Sunday morning activity, new music, or even a way to find inner peace.
Following Christ is about picking up our entire lives and moving house, crossing the river into the domain of a new master. Being a Christian is not about adding something new, it’s about making giving our entire lives to a new master.
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]