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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