In her 2011 speech to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia, the queen quoted an Aboriginal proverb: “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love, and then we return home.” Now Queen Elizabeth II has returned “home.” She is no longer a queen—she has an even higher calling as a worshiper of the King. But I believe she will hear for all eternity those words we should all long to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
Queen Elizabeth II's lifetime of service was inspired by her Christian faith and by the life of Jesus, who "came not to be served, but to serve," the archbishop of Canterbury said during the funeral service of the beloved monarch Monday.
Queen Elizabeth II consistently and publicly found that “special kind of courage” in her faith, calling Jesus “an inspiration and an anchor in my life.” Just last month, she prayed for Anglican bishops that “you will continue to be sustained by your faith in times of trial and encouraged by hope in times of despair.” If the Queen of England, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, needed a King, how much more do we?
Our names may never be known to history like the queen and the judge, but someone knows us as personally as anyone knew them. The people we live, work, and go to school with matter just as much to eternity as a queen or a federal judge. If they do not follow Jesus, we are the only Bible they may read, the only sermon they may hear. This makes our personal integrity, or lack thereof, a kingdom issue of eternal consequence.
Having reached the end of her era, it’s difficult to imagine what the monarchy will become. As Jake Meador from Mere Orthodoxy observed, “After she and Benedict XVI pass, I think European Christendom will be conclusively gone from this world. Something else will come and God will continue to work. But the loss is still immense.”
Many will continue to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in the days to come. But not everyone will understand the source of her godly character and servant heart. Amanda Gorman, the US’s youngest inaugural poet, tweeted, “Long lived the Queen—but much longer lives her legacy.” It’s now up to Queen Elizabeth II’s fellow Christians to explain the origin of her legacy and to extend it in our lives and service, to the glory of God.