Whether it is shows like The Crown, the latest news coming out of Buckingham Palace, or, on a personal level, my wife and I looking forward to cracking open gifted books on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, people are fascinated with royalty. From the opulence they possess to the human frailty bearing such a lofty office, we enjoy hearing the stories of kings and queens.
Yet for all our fascination with royalty, do we really take the time to reflect on and live out our own?
For the Bible makes it pretty clear, from beginning to end, that the church is to view itself as filled with kings and queens, princes and princesses of the great King Jesus. Not only was Abraham promised more children than the stars of the heavens or sands on the seashore, but he was told that "kings shall come from you" (Gen. 17:6) and that from Sarah his wife "kings of peoples shall come from her" (Gen. 17:16). When Abraham's children were brought out of the slavery of Egypt and assembled before God at Mt. Sinai, he told them that "you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. 19:6). Peter repeats these titles as now pertaining to the church as the new Israel, when he says, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." (1 Pet. 2:9). John ends the canon of Scripture by telling the church that Christ "has made us a kingdom" (Rev. 1:5), and reveals a scene in heaven where Christ as the Lamb of God is praised because "by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10).
Yet in what sense is the church the true royal family, and what does that practically mean?
As John indicates, it is the work of Jesus on our behalf that has exalted us to this high position. For he came as the one who fulfilled God's promise when he said to King David, "I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Sam. 7:12-13). The Psalms regularly promise that this Son of David, or Christ (anointed one), will come and have an eternal throne:
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. (Ps. 89:35-36)
See also Psalm 2:5-9; 89:3-4; 110:1.
The New Testament recognizes that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, born in Bethlehem, is that king (Matt. 2:3-6, 11; 22:41-45; Rom. 1:1-7; Heb. 1:8). By virtue of his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has ascended and rules at the right hand of the Father, with all authority and power in His control (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:34-36). And as the one given inheritance of all things, he who delights to call us his brothers (Heb. 2:11-12), seats us with him in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:20 with 2:6).
The wondrous conclusion of these truths is that the lowliest of Christians, because of the kingly blood of Jesus that redeems him, is blessed with an everlasting royalty greater than the mightiest king on the earth. Listen to how these truths are woven together beautifully in Psalm 132:11-12.
The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.”
So what does this position we enjoy as believers practically mean? Here are five ways to live as kings unto Jesus.
Think like a king. If those movies and books teach us anything, it is that a prince or princess cannot go anywhere without being reminded of their privilege. Similarly, in humility thank God daily for the royal inheritance in his eternal kingdom that you possess. Dr. Roy Blackwood used to say to us regularly "Think kingdom!" For that's what kings do!
Behave like a king. Our family has been reading the Proverbs during family worship during the holidays, and God's Word impressed on us again the importance of the character and conduct of a monarch. "It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right" (Prov. 16:12-13). During her annual Christmas address, Queen Elizabeth had family pictures on the desk beside her. However, pictures of those family members who are involved in scandal were notably missing. We are to walk as children of light in this dark world, for improper conduct brings shame to the throne.
Worship like a king. The church must never forget that its position as royal priests is a bestowed and secondary one. Thus, she must go before the Lord of lords and King of kings regularly in worship to receive his directives and seek his will. To neglect worship will cause the church to abuse or neglect its power and position in this world, rather than to faithfully fulfill it. But to go before Christ's throne eagerly in worship to sing his praises, obey his Word, pray in his name, and receive his sacraments causes the church to demonstrate further his rule on the earth.
Rule like a king. Abraham Kuyper taught "sphere sovereignty," or different areas where people have responsibility or authority and are to honor the Lord in it. In a related way, William Symington taught that the "kingdoms of the world" were to be ruled in honor of Christ. So whether its your own body, family, work, church, or other areas of responsibility, you are to exercise a wise, gracious rule that is reliant on the Holy Spirit.
Finally, suffer like your King. The church here on earth has to follow in the steps of her crucified King. We are not promised relief from suffering until glory.
So if in submitting to Christ the church is called upon to suffer, she should see that the persecution in no way threatens her royal position. Rather, just the opposite occurs. Through suffering, the church shows the world the One to whom she belongs as she patiently endures and awaits her King, who promises to rise up and deliver his people. In every way, the church is privileged to be kings with Jesus.