The New Testament presents us as joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8.17), having a share in the dominion of God (1 Corinthians 6.2-3), and promises we will one day rule with Christ in new creation.
Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.
The time for ruling will come, but right now we’re meant primarily to thwart the purposes of the enemy, fighting a spiritual battle against darkness, oppression, and control. We are called to oppose the sour and cultivate the sweet in anticipation of the rightful king resuming his throne.
Concordantly, much of the language in the New Testament could be considered seditious. Jesus’ followers referred to him as the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet that title was historically preserved for Caesar alone. Caesar was called King of kings and Lord of lords because, as he expanded the Roman Empire, he required other kings and other lords to swear him fealty. Caesar was the kings’ “king.”
The act of calling Jesus The King of the King of kings was tantamount to declaring Caesar’s power presumptuous, pretentious, and flaccid.
For the earliest Christians, their justification in calling Jesus King of kings and Lord of lords concerned Christ’s ability to gather people from multiple ethnicities, socioeconomic classes and geographical regions. Whereas Caesar “gathered” the Gauls and the Greeks through military force and called it Pax Romana, Jesus gathered Jews, Greeks, Scythians, Phoenicians, Philippians, Colossians, Meads, Mesopotamians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs by welcoming them into the Pax Christi—the peace of Christ that comes through knowing God (Acts 2.9-11).
What Rome forced, the church grew. The threat of Roman violence ensured the Pax Romana. The promise of Christ himself incarnated the Pax Christi.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com