There’s a common joke that goes something like this:
Question: How do you know a politician is lying?
Answer: His lips are moving.
Quips like this reveal that modern society is often suspicious of power—especially governmental power.
In the Christ hymn of Philippians 2, Paul noted that Christ’s reward for his obedience, sufferings, and death was cosmic rule. But for what reason? To what end does Jesus presently reign?
Once in a while, a secular media franchise will flirt with notions of transcendent rule. In 2021, Marvel’s “Loki” series concluded its first season with a showdown between the titular character and a figure named “He Who Remains.” The latter is a mad scientist who has positioned himself outside the flow of time, puppeteering the course of human affairs. He is untrustworthy yet seemingly benevolent, having saved the world from his many, more villainous alternate selves. In the episode, most of the runtime is devoted to him explaining, between loud bites of the apple he is eating, the moral dilemma faced by the titular character and his female counterpart—a not-so-subtle nod to the serpent in Eden.
Though the unbelievers influencing pop culture may experiment with the idea of a man enthroned to rule the cosmos, they cannot conceive of one who does so sanely and with pure motives. Yet Christ, unlike the world’s tyrants, does not establish his reign through some sort of warped, Neitschean will to power. Instead, Jesus rules “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
This stanza of Paul’s Christ hymn illustrates both the extent and aim of Jesus’ reign. Jesus’ kingship encompasses deep heaven, sky, earth, and abyss—taking angels, men, and demons as its subjects (v. 10). His all-encompassing authority is necessary to accomplish the goal of universal, cosmic worship of God through Christ—expressed in the very physical acts of prostration (v. 10) and confession (v. 11). Jesus reigns for the glory of the triune God—the highest possible aim conceivable in the cosmos. And in this grand end, we also find our own eternal satisfaction, since we are made for God. As Isaac Watts’ hymn would have it: “He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”
If you could summarize the Christian faith in a single statement, what would it be? Perhaps, “Jesus loves you?” Maybe, “God has a wonderful plan for your life?” Or even, “Repent and believe?” Long before the church had formalized its beliefs into formal, written creeds, the early Christian community embraced one simple confession as encompassing the whole of the faith: Jesus is Lord.
The first Christians understood that, amid a world of pagan gods and rampant wickedness, a new world order had dawned. The one true God had set his Son on heaven’s throne (Psalm 2:6, 110:1). No more were the nations to chase after their demon gods. No longer should men chase their own lusts. God had appointed a day of judgment through his Son whom he had appointed, giving proof of it by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31).
I once encountered a Muslim woman who made a living selling rather gaudy jewelry, including an assortment of ornate crucifixes, at a mall kiosk. In a conversation one day, she asked me how Christians could worship a dead man. Apparently, none of her Christian friends had told her the rest of the story.
We cannot understand our mission without first understanding Jesus’ mission. Jesus died, rose, and now reigns for the glory of the Father. One day to come, he will present his consummated domain to the Father as a gift (1 Corinthians 15:24). Until then, the task of Christians everywhere—husbands, wives, children, employees, pastors, and missionaries—is to embrace and announce the lordship of the risen Christ over the nations of the earth, the idols of our culture, and the sins in our own homes and hearts, until every knee bows and tongue confesses. We must preach hot, heavy-hitting gospel to ourselves, our households, our communities, our governments, and to foreign rulers. We will be called racists, bigots, fascists, nationalists, colonizers, and of course, mean. But we know the one who is enthroned above all, and we have a higher court to which we may appeal. He has sent us out, and he alone is the one who remains—to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
The Lord Jesus was given dominion over the universe to accomplish the goal of global worship. I long for the day that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). I pray that even now, you would cause knees to bow and tongues to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, in the halls of power and among the poorest allies, to those people who have heard and to those who are yet unreached. Let your kingdom come, and use me to that end.
In the name of King Jesus,
- Pray for a deeper heart for worship in your home, church, and network of relationships. Ask God to help you long to see him glorified in Christ among the peoples.
- Pray for your nation to confess the lordship of Christ, for the glory of God the Father.
- Ask God to send laborers so that more and more nations would confess the lordship of Christ.
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