Feast of Christ the King
Everyone worships something. Whether or not we issue an intentional invitation, something or someone sits on the throne of hearts. Whatever we consider most important, worthy of sacrifice, and critical to our happiness and well-being is given that place of importance. We get to choose what we worship, and what we pick will determine the trajectory of our lives.
Today is the Feast of Christ the King and in our first reading, Daniel receives a vision of Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven. It must have taken his breath away and I'm sure he was never the same again. This is what he recorded afterwards:
As the visions during the night continued,
I saw one like a Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven;
when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him,
the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
What a gift Daniel received. For the rest of his life, this image remained in his mind and filled it. By contrast, most of our field of vision is full of the things that our culture says have the highest value. Our eyes constantly are fed airbrushed images of celebrities that tempt us to think that nothing is more important than outward appearance. The news cycle would lead us to believe that the well-being of our nation isn't dependent on our morality; it's measured by the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P. We seek security, significance, fulfillment and purpose and bow down to whatever promises to supply it.
We were made to worship. We'll worship whatever we decide we can't live without. What can't you live without? Is it a child or a husband? Is it a thin body? How about financial security? How about a good reputation or social status? How about fruitful ministry for Christ? The things we worship can be good things. This is where it gets tricky. We check our motives, and think that what we're pursuing is good, or really for our families or other people, or really isn't harmful. And we continue down the path to nowhere.
What we believe we cannot live without we will make the supreme good in our lives. We'll pursue it with all we've got. We'll panic at the thought of losing it. Sometimes we'll compromise and break the rules if we're afraid that it's going to be taken away.
Whether we're doing it consciously or not, we have placed something on the throne of our hearts, and we're worshipping it with all we've got.
This issue isn't anything new. God talked about this to the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel and described it as “idols in our hearts.”(1) Anything that we love more than God is an idol. We think of an idol as a statue and picture people bowing in front of it. An idol can be that, but more often, it's not something physical that we can hold in our hands. But we hold them in our hearts, and that's just as dangerous.
So what do we do? How can we stop wanting these things so badly? How can we want God more?
The vision of God has got to so fill our minds and hearts that there isn't room for competing gods. They try to get in, but we're already full of God. We're feasting on what really, truly satisfies. The things the world offers to entice us - the pursuit of beauty, prosperity at any cost, self-made security - feel like too much cake for breakfast. We can see that there's an appeal, but we also recognize that filling up on those offerings will make us sick.
It was my longing for a fresh vision of God that led me to write the nine-week Bible study, Beholding Your King. I was tired of cake and wanted meat. Do you feel the same? Are you longing for something more? Do you look ahead to the Advent season and wonder how you are going to keep your focus in the right place? If that's where you find yourself, this Bible study is just for you. I wrote it to help fill the void left by superficial living, replacing it with a fuller view of God and His glory.
In the pages of Beholding Your King, we're reminded that God sits on the throne as the supreme authority. There is no one higher. As the Creator of all, the One who sustains our every breath just because He feels like it, He is the One in charge. We can choose to ignore it in the same way that children sometimes act as if they can get away with anything, but the truth remains. We can fight against it all we want, but God sits on His throne, the authority over gravity, tsunamis, fire, water, the ground beneath our feet, and the air we breathe.
There is no law greater than Him. There is no love more powerful than Him. He says it best in Isaiah 46: 9, 10: “I am God, there is no other; I am God, there is none like me. At the beginning I declare the outcome; from of old, things not yet done. I say that my plan shall stand, I accomplish my every desire.”
What do we think would be a better authority to bow to? Ourselves? Another imperfect person? Money that can be gone in an instant? Beauty that is guaranteed to fade?
Nothing but God is worthy of our worship, and He should take our breath away.
May the vision of His glory fill our hearts this Advent season,
1. Ezekiel 14:3