An event is coming on the evening of December 21 that last occurred on March 4, 1226. According to Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan, that was the last time Jupiter and Saturn were as closely aligned in the night sky as they will be later this month.
In eighteen days, the two will appear to us like a double planet separated by only one-fifth the diameter of the full moon. This won’t happen again until March 15, 2080, and then sometime after the year 2400.
Even though these planets will appear as small dots in our sky, they are actually huge. In fact, you could fit seven hundred Earths inside Saturn. Jupiter is even larger: you could fit thirteen hundred Earths—or one of each of the planets in our solar system—inside it.
Actually, you could not do any of that, of course. Neither could I. But the Christ of Christmas could.
The Bible says that by Jesus “all things were created, in heaven and on earth” (Colossians 1:16). This, however, is not how most people in our culture picture him. A baby in a manger, a teacher and healer, even a man dying on a cross or rising from the grave—we see him more as creature than Creator; one of us rather than King of us.
And that’s a problem.
The only 'sin' left in our culture
The Bible calls Jesus “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). The prophet told the people of Jerusalem, “Behold, your king is coming to you” (Zechariah 9:9), a prediction fulfilled with Jesus’ triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1-11). Our Lord later told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
However, most of us don’t like kings. Americans staged a war for independence to rid ourselves of one. We are fascinated by the British royal family as cultural icons, but few in America would want them to function as actual monarchs with authority over our daily lives.
As John Piper notes, the “age-old enslavement of the fallen human heart” takes three forms: self-deification (“I will be my own god”), self-definition (“I will define my own essential identity”), and self-determination (“I will decide my own truth and my own morality, without deference to any authority outside myself”).
I have often said that in our culture, God is not a king but a hobby. We have separated Sunday from Monday, the spiritual from the secular, religion from the “real world.” Religion, like other hobbies, is what we do with our discretionary time. Just as we would never force our hobbies on others, requiring them to like golf or country music, we must never force our religion on others. Or so we’re told.
Our secular culture will permit you to be a religious person so long as you keep your religion to yourself. But if you begin making your faith the ruling dimension of your life and encouraging others to do the same, you’ll be accused of intolerance. And intolerance is the only “sin” left in our culture.
How is this fact relevant to our weeklong search for ways to experience Jesus more powerfully during this season? Because the Christ of Christmas reigns as king today, it stands to reason that we cannot know him intimately unless we make him our king and invite others to do the same.
To work in his fields, sit at his feet
I once heard the famous preacher Frederick Sampson tell about spending a summer on his uncle’s farm. His first day, his uncle rousted him out of his bed in the hayloft at four in the morning and got him busy mucking out stalls, sweeping floors, chopping wood, heating water, and doing whatever else the house and barn required.
Finally, Fred was done. He started back up the ladder to the hayloft to go back to sleep. His uncle asked where he was going. Fred said, “I’ve finished my work.” His uncle bent down, put his finger in Fred’s face, and said, “I’m going to tell you something, and don’t you ever forget it. What you do around the house is chores. What you do in the fields is work.”
Fred told this story to make the valuable point that time spent serving the institution of the church, while important, is not the work of evangelism and ministry that we are called to do in the “fields” (cf. Matthew 9:38). However, I would offer this observation as well: unless we spend time in the “house” of the Lord, we will not have his power when we go to the fields.
Before Jesus sent his disciples out into ministry (Matthew 10:5), he first “gave them authority” to do their work (v. 1). Before we can work in his fields, we must sit at his feet.
How to get along with God
In the context of today’s article, this means that we begin every day by making Jesus the king of our lives for that day. As fallen humans, our default position is to be king of our own lives. We must consciously and intentionally submit ourselves to Jesus as the king of every dimension of our lives by submission to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
As I once heard a pastor say, “If you want to get along with God, stay off his throne.”
If you insist on living as your own master, you are responsible for your own needs, protection, and purpose in life. But if you say to God, “I am your servant” (Psalm 143:12), making Jesus the king of your life and day, you will experience an intimacy, power, and abundance you can find nowhere else. And others will be drawn to your King.
Oswald Chambers claimed: “When we choose deliberately to obey him, then, with all his almighty power, he will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us.”
Even Jupiter and Saturn.
NOTE: For more, see my latest video, “What does the Bible say about the power of God’s Spirit?“
Publication date: December 3, 2020
Photo courtesy: Reimund Bertrams/Pixabay
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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