The Kingship of Jesus, A Meme

No Matter Who Is President, Jesus Is King

Here’s a meme which has been passed around in var­i­ous forms and with var­i­ous designs; I did a Google Images search for the text (“No mat­ter who is pres­i­dent, Jesus is King.”), and the above ver­sion of the meme was the first result. There are two things I want to point out about this meme.

Observation the first, from a biblical POV

From a strict­ly bib­li­cal per­spec­tive, the meme is right! Chris­tians are, bib­li­cal­ly, cit­i­zens of an unearth­ly king­dom (Philip­pi­ans 3:20), under the rule of Jesus, their king (1 Tim­o­thy 6:15).

So why, if the meme is tech­ni­cal­ly bib­li­cal­ly cor­rect am I includ­ing this as a mind­less meme? Well, do you actu­al­ly know any­one who lives their life as if Jesus is their king? 

“Jesus is king” is a mar­ketable plat­i­tude, express­ing just enough Chris­tian­i­ty to sell shirts, bracelets, books, and songs to the church crowd, but beyond that?

“Jesus is my king, so…” … So what? You go to church on Sun­days? … He nev­er com­mand­ed that. You have a pic­ture of him hang­ing up and pass his pic­ture around Face­book when­ev­er it shows up? … That’s actu­al­ly for­bid­den by your king (see the images and idol­a­try clause of the Ten Com­mand­ments). You say a few prayers and always “amen” oth­er Chris­t­ian plat­i­tudes on social media? … How very impres­sive of you.

There’s a very good chance that if you were to meet a Chris­t­ian — an actu­al Chris­t­ian who lives as though he actu­al­ly does have a king that makes spe­cif­ic demands of you — I doubt you’d rec­og­nize them as a Christian.

Pass­ing around “Jesus is king” claims while not liv­ing as though he is actu­al­ly your king? That is tan­ta­mount to tak­ing God’s name in vain (apply­ing it to your­self in a man­ner which is ulti­mate­ly mean­ing­less — what, you did­n’t think “god­damn” was what the com­mand­ment was talk­ing about, did you?), and con­sid­er­ing that accord­ing to the Bible, God does­n’t hold blame­less or guilt­less those who take his name in vain (Exo­dus 20:7), it does­n’t get any more brain­less than that (for those who actu­al­ly believe in the god in ques­tion, that is)!

Observation the second, from an American POV

Wel­come to the Unit­ed States, where your titles of nobil­i­ty don’t real­ly mat­ter so much, espe­cial­ly when your sup­posed king­dom is an unrec­og­nized (and unre­al) state, Heaven.

Addi­tion­al­ly, as cit­i­zens of the Unit­ed States, we are not behold­en to any nobility.

I men­tion the above because I often see the meme in ques­tion shared by the sort of Chris­t­ian who is hyper-“patriotic”: They love the mil­i­tary, love con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics, love the Con­sti­tu­tion, etc. As a reminder, then, here is what the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion says about titles of nobility:

No title of nobil­i­ty shall be grant­ed by the Unit­ed States: and no per­son hold­ing any office of prof­it or trust under them, shall, with­out the con­sent of the Con­gress, accept of any present, emol­u­ment, office, or title, of any kind what­ev­er, from any king, prince, or for­eign state.

Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion Arti­cle I, Sec­tion 9, Clause 8

Jesus being “king,” then, has no con­se­quence to the Amer­i­can pub­lic, espe­cial­ly if sub­jects of that king don’t seem to want to live as though their king is alive and rul­ing their lives.

As a final note, I want to point out that which one of my favorite Unit­ed States Found­ing Fathers, Thomas Paine, said regard­ing titles of nobil­i­ty, because he is absolute­ly right:

Dig­ni­ties and high sound­ing names have dif­fer­ent effects on dif­fer­ent behold­ers. The lus­tre of the Star and the title of My Lord, over-awe the super­sti­tious vul­gar, and for­bid them to inquire into the char­ac­ter of the pos­ses­sor: Nay more, they are, as it were, bewitched to admire in the great, the vices they would hon­est­ly con­demn in them­selves. This sac­ri­fice of com­mon sense is the cer­tain badge which dis­tin­guish­es slav­ery from free­dom; for when men yield up the priv­i­lege of think­ing, the last shad­ow of lib­er­ty quits the horizon.

The Life and Works of Thomas Paine. Edit­ed by William M. Van der Weyde. Patri­ots’ Edi­tion. 10 vols. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Thomas Paine Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion, 1925, as quot­ed by Wikipedia.

When fig­ures are giv­en titles of nobil­i­ty — king, lord, high­ness, excel­len­cy, etc. — it becomes easy to become “over-awed” by them, to the point that we not only hold them in high regard but we hold their vices in high regard as well, despite our will­ing­ness to con­demn in our­selves the same behavior.

Is that not the behav­ior you see Chris­tians dis­play toward God? God can be pride­ful to the point of cre­at­ing crea­tures whose sole eter­nal pur­pose is to sing a refrain over and over, though we still are to mar­vel at God’s utter “humil­i­ty.” God can impreg­nate a young girl who “belonged” to anoth­er man, but we must­n’t, yet we still are to won­der at God’s “puri­ty.” God can kill any­one for near­ly any rea­son, but we must­n’t, yet we are still to be amazed at how pro-life God is.

For too long, too many peo­ple have refused to crit­i­cize the char­ac­ter of their god because, well, he is “king.” He’s not only giv­en a pass because of his “sov­er­eign­ty,” he’s giv­en excus­es for every moral fail­ing he might have.

But we must ascend that Olym­pus. We must put our gods, whether they be Yah­weh or Allah, Zeus or Vish­nu, into the fires of crit­i­cal exam­i­na­tion, if not for their exis­tence then or their char­ac­ters themselves.

Only then can we tru­ly appre­ci­ate the soci­ety the Found­ing Fathers want­ed us to have, one which func­tions with­out a king, whether in Eng­land or in Heav­en. One which is sec­u­lar, for the mutu­al ben­e­fit of all of us.

Fea­tured image: source (mod­i­fied) | license

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Rick Beckman