by Christopher Harbin

Until God Reigns
Christopher B. Harbin
1st Corinthians 15:23-34

What do we expect out of our rulers, authorities, and leaders? We often speak of command, influence, guidance, policy, and direction. We may speak of character, ethics, and moral fiber. We expect leaders to chart a course, set the pace, and call others to obey rules, legislation, and codes of conduct. Do we expect the same from our religious leaders or from God? N.T. Wright raises similar issues in When God Became King that we should consider. What does it means for Jesus to reign? How should that impact our lives? As Jesus ostensibly did not come to earth with political aspirations, how do and should we consider the character of God's reign in our lives through Christ Jesus?

Absolute monarchs traditionally reign by fiat. They declare their will, which becomes the law of the realm. There is no question of oversight by some powerful authority. The monarch's will is law, regardless of criticism, support, direction, advice, or the counsel of others. Try as we might to cast Jesus' reign in such a light, the facts and stories of Jesus' life and ministry just do not add up like that.

We are perhaps more accustomed to a three-branched system of government with checks and balances. Yet we still seem to project a perspective of the executive office as the one wielding power and pushing through policies, programs, and personal interests. We look upon God as ruler, and often project something along the lines of God acting as Divine legislator, Executive enforcer of legal decrees, and Judge to convict and sentence those who fail to obey. We take all our pictures of human political governance and press God into the pattern of some patchwork of roles we understand. If there is any foundational authority, we point to the Bible as though it might somehow keep God in check.

The problem with this collage portraying God as ruler is that there really is no basis for such a construct in the t ...

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