Luke 23:33-43–When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
There was an uprising this week. Anger over leadership. Protests over power.
But i’m not speaking of what you think i’m speaking… It was in the Stadtmueller household. There was too much bickering. Dad had to flex his power. “NO ICE CREAM, YOU’VE BEEN FIGHTING TOO MUCH.” and from there the power struggle escalated to almost a mob mentality.
In the end I won, but I didn’t feel like I won. The power I held I wasn’t sure I wielded properly. I sought to be a good parent, and at the end of the evening I wondered if I had done it properly. It made me think about parenting and a word that every parent can long for in one way and laugh at in another.
We long for normal because routine is heavenly when raising children. Laugh at, because we all know normal is a totally fake word. Normal in all of life is a relative reality that we create for ourselves. And though some of us thrive on the thought of being something other than “normal”. There is still for most of us a desire to at least have some idea of what to expect tomorrow.
Ha, but that makes me think of another relative word. Progress. Again we want it, but it assumes a linear reality that we don’t often find in life. Progress assumes that there is a destination to which we will reach, and that we are getting closer to it.
It is “normal”, “progress” and a “linear world-view” that I want to challenge for a moment. Because from a spiritual perspective I think these things are not helpful. It is why we have a church calendar that repeats a yearly cycle of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. This circular calendar challenges us living a world that pushes us to straight line thinking.
In Jesus we have been set free from a linear perspective of life. Christ spent his life telling his disciples, and the poor and the rich, and the pharisees alike… to stop trying to get somewhere, and start looking at the neighbor near you.
I know some are worried about the world today. Remember… However you are feeling about the powers of this world, you are invited to live into a promise that transcends political boundaries. One that both humbles us when we are living high on the progress we have made in the linear world that this kingdom celebrates; and one that challenges us to rise up against a world that oppresses the poor and lame.
You see a linear perspective is like the interstate. It’s really nice if you travelling a long distance. You can go a long way very quickly. But for too long the people of God have had an attitude that our life is about going a long way. Jesus reminded the people of God that our journey in life is set free from getting somewhere so we can focus on our our neighbor.
Glory, Riches, Power can be achieved through the linear perspective. But
Faith, Hope, and love come from a journey that takes us down the same roads over and over again.
As we declare Christ as King we are acknowledging that the powers of this world continue to sell us a vision of a normal that is unobtainable. Of a progress that will some day crumble away like the treasures we store up. Of a power that continues to bring bickering at best and blood shed at worst.
Christ as King declares that the power of love overcomes the love of power. And Christ as King brings us to a world that is not progressing to a destination unknown, but a kingdom that through Christ we have already caught a glimpse of and indeed already exists.
You are declared on this day righteous for Christ’s sake. This is not so you can walk a new road, but that so you can walk any road old or new with the promise that Christ is the one who has the ultimate power. And inviting others to join you in this journey that lives in this world differently.
In doing this our power is transformed from being fixated on “progress” to being fixated on helping or neighbor. And in our struggles to utilize power for this purpose we are invited in our families, our churches and our communities into a life of forgiveness that allows those who have fallen away a return.
And so in a linear world this would be the end of our journey. We have told the story throughout the church calendar of Christ as King, but as we declare this to be true we return to the beginning of the story once again because our lives remain vulnerable and in need of a saviour that loves us. We seek to keep our eyes and ears sharp to the ways God will use our gifts both individually and collectively for tomorrow.