• Steven Marsh

Giving–Jesus is Lord: a Reflection on Psalm 132:1-12, John 18:33-37 and 2 Samuel 23:1-7

At the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, Martin Luther and John Calvin concluded there are three marks to identify the “true” church: the preaching of the gospel, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the right exercise of church discipline. Living the gospel, partaking of the sacraments, and practicing disciplined care of each other’s well-being are acts of being community.

It is true that Jesus is Lord. And on this Christ the King Sunday, let’s come to terms with that. Has Jesus marked your life? Is it guided by the Gospel? Do you repent of the insidious sins of anger, gossip, false accusation, deceit and self-righteousness? Are you in accountable relationships which practice the disciplines of reproof, correction, forgiveness and love? Listen to the following account of a form of religious thinking that is capturing fellow humans, yes, even Christians in their worldview.

A new religion invented by a Massachusetts psychologist…[c]alled “Yoism”…is based on the “open source” principle—where the general public becomes a combined, creative authority and source of truth…Yoism operates and evolves over the Internet…Dan Kriegman, who founded Yoism in 1994, did so because he wanted to make religion open to change and responsive to the wisdom of people everywhere. “I don’t think anyone has ever complained about something that didn’t lead to some revision or clarification in the Book of Yo,” said Kriegman. He added: “Every aware, conscious, sentient spirit is divine and has direct access to truth…. Open source embodies that. There is no authority.”[1]

Christ the King Sunday demands we take a second look at how we have made Christianity into something other than intended and Jesus into our image. Open Source religious authority is dangerous.

The psalmist declares that Christians are inhabited by a holy God who has chosen a people to live in a way that promotes God’s reign of plentitude, blessing, justice and joy.[2]   In Unity, Christians serve for the public good. Robert Bellah remarks, “Religious bodies are very much part of this meaning of the public, not because they are governmentally “established” religions with legal privileges but because they enter into the common discussion about the public good.”[3]  In the reading from the Gospel of John, Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”[4] 2 Samuel states that David’s strength, worth and leadership is not derived from himself, but is a gift from the One who knows him the best and loves him the most. God. All three of our Bible texts point us to serve the common good. We are to give non-judgmentally and generously for the common good from what God has given us, from the wallet of one’s life.

As Christians, we must understand the difference between religion and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; ritual and relationship. A Christian’s faith should not be in a system, but in Jesus Christ. Religion is impersonal. Jesus Christ is personal. In a day and age when everything seems to be coming undone at the seams, people need hope. Those who name Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord mediate hope to others. Jesus loves us so much that he died on the cross for your sins, my sins and the sins of humanity. We need only to respond.

On this Christ the King Sunday, be reminded that we are to be faithful witnesses to the lordship (kingship) of Christ and as a community participate with God in the mission of transforming the world. How? By living the gospel, partaking of the sacraments and practicing disciplined care of each other’s well-being. Mike Slaughter writes, “Ultimately, we each make a choice, consciously or unconsciously, to invest our God-provided resources in serving ourselves or serving God’s purposes. The first is selfish and short-sighted; the latter leads to new hope and renewed life.”[5] Let us use our life’s wallet to serve God’s purposes not our own. Jesus is Lord. Christ is King.

[1]Charles Piller, “Divine Inspiration from the Masses,” LA Times (7-23-06); submitted by Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec, Canada. This illustration was found on preachingtoday.com.

[2]This idea of God’s reign being one of plentitude, blessing, justice and joywas gleaned from Michael Pasquarello III in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 4(Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 321.

[3]Robert N. Bellah, The Good Society (New York City, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), 179.

[4]John 18:36

[5]Mike Slaughter, The Christian Wallet (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016), 198.

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