Don’t just watch it transpire at Buckingham Palace. Live it.
Over this last weekend, the whole world observed an elderly prince become a king. It was a long time coming. Under the watchful gaze of Elizabeth II, a younger, sometimes contrary Charles had made poor personal choices, often chafing from her rebukes. For a short time during the sixties he had even been perceived as a flamboyant playboy—”Action Man” they called him. It would have been hard to connect the dots of those early days to a throne in the future, especially during moments when Charles acted un-kingly.
But while watching this 73 year old give his first speech as King, I was struck with how much of his previous lifestyle had dried up now, present only as unwanted phantoms of the past. In their place was a more mature, sober resolve for crown and country, and a desire to reign with the same dedication of his mother.
I could not help but think of an even more remarkable transition from paupers to potentates that is in slow process right now (though it receives no attention whatsoever in the news).
Christ is in the process of raising up rulers who will reign with Him.
Our current Christian journey has often received short shrift, sometimes even from us. We see it as a long wait in the lobby for an elevator to heaven where family reunions await, or favorite hobbies.
But our future holds neither idle repose, nor pedestrian interests. We are becoming royalty, children of the King whose maturity in Christ will enable us to rule with Him. This is a theme oft-repeated in Scripture:
Lk. 18:17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
1 Cor. 6:3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
Rev. 3:1 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Rev. 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
The embedded message in these verses ought to remind us that an elevated future requires meaningful daily lessons. Rebukes are both important and long reaching. Disappointment realigns us upon reality. Discipline trains us concerning what we ought to seek. Pain becomes a teacher. Overwhelming circumstances broaden the heart. Failure humbles. Growth itself is never generic, but unto the requirements of a greater more glorious kingdom than anything we now know.
“A disciple is not above His Teacher,” Jesus said (Mt. 10:24). And much like the Master Himself, who spent thirty of His thirty-three years in obscurity, we will live our lives off the grid, required to pass through life anonymous to the world, but all the while with an enduring sense of His redemption sealed upon our hearts, and the assurance that our future holds a harvest of glory.
Charles III didn’t become the King of Great Britain overnight. It took many decades. If he had ascended the throne even a year earlier, he might not have been ready to wear the crown. Not to mention, if he had been frozen in the midst of earlier juvenile seasons.
One news spokesperson recently described him as a “mediocrity” due to his checkered marital past and failure to have accomplished anything of note. Perhaps “mediocrity” will be more true of our own selves. For without grace, even the admirable things we accomplish for Jesus would never merit ascension to a throne. Our humiliations are too frequent, our lapses of wisdom too severe.
At the end, we will still realize how much we needed to rely on our exalted birth and placement, and the good will of a heavenly Father to raise us to such a station. In the midst of that victorious, joyful time, we will confess that on our best days we were lackluster. On our worst, we resented, ignored, opposed, the careful divine efforts taken to enable our faithfulness and service.
In this way, victory, including the joyful reports of five talents becoming ten (c.f. Matt 25), or one mina becoming ten (c.f. Lk. 19), will always be tempered with the deep acknowledgement of the grace of Jesus Christ, and the kind indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, maybe you’re mediocre.
The grace of your Savior isn’t.