Several years ago, I was approached by a student from Crandall University and asked to do an interview about what it was like to be Roman Catholic. This young lady was doing a project for her Religious Studies class and wanted to see the similarities, and differences, between the Baptist tradition, in which she was raised, and Roman Catholicism. In her work for her project, she came to mass every Sunday for a month, interviewed myself and a couple of others, and spent a little time with some church documents found on the internet. I was the last person she interviewed for this project, and at the end of the interview she told me something that has stuck with me to this day. She said, “In my religion, God is our Father, while in your religion, He seems to be your King”.
For the next little while I spent some time thinking about this rather startling observation. Spending close to 30 years involved in the R.C.I.A. process and meeting many people who were coming to us from other faith traditions, I have learned that there are many ways our church is perceived from the outside looking in; and some not very flattering. I guess the same can be said the other way as well. But, for some reason, this was different. This wasn’t the usual stuff about how we worship saints and statues, only pray to Mary, and think we can do anything we want, then go to confession, and all is good. This statement, by this young lady, went right to the core of how I lived out my relationship with God.
When I think of kings and queens, and royalty in general, I think of people of privilege who are detached from the lives their subjects lead and are unapproachable to the common person. This is not the God, or for that matter, the Jesus, that I know. The Jesus that I know is as close to me as my next breath. He is concerned with every aspect of my life; the joys and the sorrows, the victories and the defeats. And, he is so approachable, that if I forget to reach out to him from time to time, then he reaches out to me. Then it dawned on me that my thoughts about kings and queens were somewhat narrow minded. A king can also be someone you would want to emulate. Someone you would want to pattern yourself after. So, I went searching for what would be considered qualities of a good king. Here’s what I found: A good king is very clear, there is no question about their vision; a good king is decisive, courageous, passionate, and humble. As I looked at these qualities and matched them up with Jesus of Nazareth that I have come to know and love, I came to the conclusion that King is indeed an appropriate title. And what’s great about this situation is that it’s like having your father as king. Always with your best interest at heart. Always there when you need him. Always welcoming you home, no matter where life’s journeys have taken you.I often wonder what kind of grade the young lady from Crandall received for her project. I would never say that her conclusions were incorrect, but maybe, incomplete. Yes, I will concede that God is our King. But that’s only one side of who God is for us. God is the only king I have ever known who loved his people so much that he wanted to become oneof them so he could lead them safely home. That One is who we celebrate today; Christ the King.