[Another snippet from my Christ the King sermon.]
We usually don't focus much on the idea of God as king. Other themes get more play, especially in evangelical circles. We actually tend to hear a lot more about God as deliverer, God as savior, God as rescuer. Who is God? He is the deliverer who saves us from our sins. God is the liberator who frees us from slavery in Egypt. This is what Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann calls the gospel of rescue and deliverance, salvation for the have-nots, the people in peril and crisis. It’s part of the biblical narrative about who God is.
But it’s only part of the picture. What does salvation look like if you’re not in peril? If you’re not a slave in Egypt needing to be liberated or delivered? The other side of the coin, Brueggemann says, is the gospel of stewardship and blessing. And this is what we see in the kingship narratives. We see glimpses of it during the time of the united monarchy, and it’s also a major theme of the wisdom literature, especially the book of Proverbs. It’s the role of the wise king, the just ruler, who governs well, for the benefit of all in the land. At its best, the good king is a king of peace and harmony, bringing blessing to all under his rule so that all within the kingdom can thrive and flourish. The king is extending shalom, wholeness, well-being, the way life is supposed to be. That’s the other side of the gospel. God is not just deliverer and rescuer. Once we are rescued and delivered, we are to live wisely and well, under the governance of a good king.
What’s significant about this theme is that it’s creational. It predates the fall. After the fall, we needed a deliverer. We needed to be rescued. But before the fall, what were we called to? Tending the garden. Good governance, wise stewardship. Making sure that all was as God intended, that all creation experienced the shalom of God’s goodness.
For those of us who grew up in evangelical circles, we get a glimpse of this whenever we hear the formula of “accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord.” The Savior part is the deliverance theme. The Lord part is the kingship theme. Two sides of the same coin.
So it’s not just that we know Jesus as Savior. Jesus saves us from our sins, yes. Jesus rescues us from perishing, yes. But Jesus is not just on a mission to rescue people and ship us off to heaven. Just as important is that we live out our lives here and now, with Jesus as our king, that we live out our lives under the kingship, the lordship of Christ.