Last week, I shared that everyone who believes in and follows Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is a king or queen in God's Kingdom. I hope that knowledge gives all God's people great confidence. We have dignity because God chose us to be His royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's very own possession. It is a profound revelation that we are that important and loved by the God of the universe.
Today, I want to share how we should live as royalty in God's Kingdom. I thought I might get some insights by looking at how royal families on earth live. So I did some research into the royal family of England. I found some interesting facts about royal etiquette, but unfortunately, I don't think it will be very helpful in the Kingdom of God. For instance:
- The royal family of England cannot be touched by non-royals (bummer--no hugs).
- They are not supposed to eat shellfish (apparently there is a fear of food poisoning).
- All Royals must enter a room and sit at tables in order of their royal rank.
- No one may eat after the Queen has finished eating.
- Royals cannot sit with their legs crossed.
- Royals must hold their eating utensils in the correct hands.
- Royals must hold a tea cups properly.
England is a limited monarchy. There role of the royal family is mostly ceremonial. However, in the past, there were absolute monarchies. In an absolute monarchy, the king or queen has absolute power over the people. The monarch can issue decrees–the quick, unchallenged creation of a law. They can also impose unchallenged punishments or pardons. Regardless of whether the royal decree, punishment, or pardon is fair or even makes sense, it must be obeyed because the king or queen has absolute authority. I'm glad America is a democracy and not an absolute monarchy. It isn't wise to let a mortal and fallible king or queen have absolute power. We know of several examples of absolute monarchies and we can see the trouble they get into. Israel in the Old Testament started out as an absolute monarchy. The Roman Empire in Jesus' day was an absolute monarchy. Even today, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy.
In the Kingdom of God, Jesus is an absolute monarch. He created everything and He owns it all. He is supreme and the only one worthy and able to rule with justice. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But if we who follow Jesus Christ are kings and queens, how then shall we live? Well, let's study what Jesus said.
Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
So to start with, we see that the Kingdom of God is not of this world and so it doesn't follow the pattern of this world's royal families. (Thank goodness, because I really like to eat shellfish!) But what are the rules for God's Kingdom? Again, listen to Jesus.
25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
From Jesus' teaching, we can list 5 rules of Royal Etiquette in God's Kingdom.
Royal Etiquette in God’s Kingdom
Number 1 - The greatest kings and queens in God’s Kingdom are the servants of all.
This first rule undergirds
everything. Jesus taught many different lessons throughout his ministry. However, it was all founded on this one principle--servanthood. Jesus was the greatest of all servants. He left the glory of Heaven to come save us, even though we don't deserve it. That is divine royalty and all the other rules of etiquette in God's Kingdom follow the first.
Number 2 - God’s kings and queens seek the glory of God.
Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the only one worthy of glory. Yet, Jesus didn't come to toot his own horn. Jesus came to glorify God, not himself. A king or queen in God’s Kingdom is loyal to God and seeks God’s will above all else. They're not trying to get their own way, not seeking public approval or popularity, not wanting financial security or prosperity, not after power or influence. God’s kings and queens are willing to lay down their life and sacrifice all for the sake of the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
Number 3 - God’s kings and queens are willing to sacrifice so that others can find true joy.
What is true joy? True joy is to know Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. Those who follow Jesus know that incredible joy and want the whole world to know it too. So we go into all the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We preach the Gospel and share the Good News so that as many as possible will lay down their selfish pursuits and come to know the source of true Joy. And guess what? This also brings glory to God (which is number 2)!
Number 4 - God’s kings and queens are willing to give up their own rights rather than hurt the Good News about Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest evangelists in God's Kingdom is the Apostle Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament and shaped the early Church. Paul wrote Galatians, an epic declaration of Christians freedom in Christ. Paul was the great herald who preached about our absolutely free from all the rules and regulations of the Old Testament. Yet look at how Paul lived. He was willing to set aside his freedom for the sake of the Gospel. Sometimes Paul chose not to eat or drink certain foods (not because he had to, but because he didn’t want to do anything that would hinder others from listening to his message about Jesus Christ). For the same reason, Paul often refused the financial support he deserved from those he served; instead made his own living as a tentmaker and preached for free. Paul would rather go hungry or dress poorly than be a financial burden to the ones he was trying to convert to Jesus. The greatest evangelist was often beaten or was homeless or endured disrespect inside and outside the church for the sake of the Gospel. And Paul even decided not to get married so he could devote all of his time to spreading Gospel to as many people as possible. In the end, Paul died as a martyr. We have great freedom and privilege as kings and queens in God's Kingdom, but we should be ready to set that all aside for the sake of sharing the Good News about Jesus with a dying world.
Number 5 - God’s kings and queens aren’t worried about being in the spotlight or receiving recognition.
Perhaps a wedding is a good illustration. In a wedding, the bride and the groom are the most important people, but the matron of honor and the best man are important too. The best man and matron of honor are honored as being very special people in the bride and groom's life, but the wedding is not about them. They are there to assist the bride and groom and help everyone focus on them. They sometimes share the spotlight, but they gladly give it up so that everyone can focus on the bride and groom.
Well, God’s kings and queens realize this life is not about them. It’s about what we can do to shine the spotlight on others and ultimately on Jesus Christ—the only one who truly deserves to be recognized and admired. Sometimes, we may share the spotlight with Jesus for a time. It can be addicting; it is an amazing rush to stand beside Jesus and share in His glory, but God’s kings and queens realize the spotlight is not for us. We graciously step aside when it’s time for us to get out of the way so the King of kings and Lord of lords can be seen more fully and receive all the glory.
If you follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are royalty in God's Kingdom. It is an amazing privilege and honor. As the royal family of God, we can live with confidence and dignity as we serve others, seek the glory of God, sacrifice for others, set aside our rights for the sake of the Kingdom's mission, and stop worrying about getting recognition. Let's follow Christ's example--for the greatest in the Kingdom will be the servant of all.