I used to work in sports television. One of my favorite parts of this old job was getting to go to Seahawks football practices. Seeing professional athletes train, compete, and prepare for games up close was truly thrilling. I remember watching linebackers smash into pads and quarterbacks throw the same pass a hundred times in a row. I have one memory that sticks out above them all. It was the last offense vs. defense drill of the day. Practices were structured around stations and timers. You would be in your station until a loud horn went off and then you would sprint to the next station or drill. At the end of practice everyone would be at the same station for an offense vs. defense drill. Close to a hundred football players, plus coaches, trainers, medical teams and the media all at one station. When the final horn sounded, everyone would jog off to the locker rooms and practice was over.
One day the team was at its last station and the horn went off. As usual, hundreds of people set in motion towards the locker room when all of the sudden the Head Coach Mike Holmgren yelled, “stop!” With absolute authority a hundred giants in full gear stopped. Coach Holmgren then said, “let’s do a few more.” Without question everyone returned to their places and kept on going. I went to tons of practices and I only saw this happen once. What I and everyone there knew was that Coach Holmgren was in charge. He was the King of that football team. Total authority.
In the Bible, Jesus is called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the one with absolute authority. He even has authority over those who have political and religious authority. There is no second guessing and will be no second guessing when he returns. When he speaks, even the wind and the waves obey. He is the king.
Good King vs. Bad King
I grew up playing a lot of sports and so I had a lot of coaches. Some were cool and some were jerks. One thing I learned was that when you have a bad coach it doesn’t really matter how much you love the sport the coach can ruin it for you. The same could be true with a good coach. Good coaches could take lame sports and make them fun and make you play and practice harder. The good coaches knew your name. They took interest in you outside of just the sport. They were coaches you had relationship with. They let you know what was expected of you and they let you know they were there for you on and off the playing field/court.
I believe the same can be said about kings. We all have things that rule our lives. Things that we serve and that have absolute authority over us. It can be bosses, money, work, education, sports, sex, anxiety or anything really. The problem is that nothing in creation was created for us to serve and obey completely. Nothing in creation was created to be our lord and king. Lots of things were created for us to enjoy, but just like a bad coach, they make bad kings and destroy what enjoyment we once gained from them.
Take money for instance. When was the last time money cared for your heart? Sacrificed for you? Loved you? Money is a greedy king that demands you take time from family, steal from friends and hoard everything for yourself only to leave you as unsatisfied as you were before you had the last dollar. Money is helpful to serve Jesus the King with but terrible to worship as King and be enslaved to.
Jesus on the other hand is a different kind of king. He is a good and perfect king. A king that loves his people and listens to his people. He is the good shepherd who knows his sheep. He is such a good king that obeying him, even when it leads to suffering, ultimately leads to joy. He is not a distant king but, in fact, is a high priest who listens to our struggles and sympathizes with our weaknesses. He is not a controlling or demanding king but a king who came to serve us. He is a king who washes feet. He leads in love, tenderness, service, and care. He is not a greedy king but a generous king. He loves us.
The Loving King
How do we know that he loves us? Look at the cross. At the cross, Jesus took our guilt, our shame, all of our ugliness, and sin upon himself. We committed treason against him and he takes the death penalty for our treason. Not only does he take what is bad, but he gives what is good. He gives us forgiveness, righteousness, grace, mercy and hope. This is not just a good king, this is a great king. A glorious and generous king! And he loves us!
The truth of the Bible is that the one with absolute authority knows who you are and he deeply loves you. He knows every hair on your head and he died to save and rescue you. Our king is not just a king but a savior and a shepherd. He doesn’t treat us like slaves but calls us friends. This is good news. This changes how we serve our king and how we live. Theology is important. Knowing who our God is and who we worship affects every area of our life and every area of the church.
At the Service of the King
Many of our problems in the American church are due to us thinking King Jesus is really a distant and demanding coach or boss. Instead of us seeing ourselves as blessed to serve a good and gracious king we run, hide or complain when given the opportunity to serve because we are worried that we will once again fail to please another person in authority over us. This life of hesitant or disgruntled service is really a life of poor theology.
Good theology frees us to run to King Jesus as one that we get to serve. If Jesus is always king, then we must always be his servants. We are not in some higher or lower class where some people should serve us and we should serve others. That is not who we are. All of creation is here for the sole purpose of serving the king. That means that we are servants in our home even if we are the head of the house. It means we are servants in the workplace even if we are the CEO. It means that the homeless, ditch digger is at the same status as the Oscar award winning actor--a servant. We no longer have to fight to prove the lie that we are king; we get to rest in our rightful place as servant to the king. This is who we are.
Service goes from a chore to a joy as it is us being who we were created to be and us doing what we were created to do. We will find ourselves at home serving all kinds of people at all sorts of times as we are ultimately serving Jesus. A life as a servant enables humility as we grow in realizing that we are never the one with absolute authority and this frees us from being enslaved to people or things that also are not in absolute authority.
I want to encourage you to get to know King Jesus. Learn to listen to him and to obey him. He truly is the only one worthy of our complete obedience.
Jake Chambers is a member of Jesus’ bride - the church, husband to his beautiful bride Lindsey, and a daddy to his boy Ezra. Jake is passionate about seeing the gospel both transform lives and create communities that love Jesus, the city, and the lost. He currently serves Red Door Church through leading, preaching, equipping, and pastoring. You can read more of his writing at reddoorlife.tv. Follow him on twitter: @JakeJayChambers