Part Three - For the Life of the World: Chapter 7 - King
The third of the three offices fulfilled by Christ and exercised through his body the Church is the office of king.
The idea of being a royal priesthood comes from the Old Testament:
5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." NIV
Here we have the idea of “treasured possession,” which is very close to the idea in the New Testament of kleros (clergy); God’s portion or inheritance. The idea is repeated by Peter in the New Testament:
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. NIV
Again we have the notion of special people, the whole people of God, set apart to be a “royal priesthood” or “kingdom of priests.”
We also look to Hebrews:
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. NIV
Melchizedek was the priest-king that Abraham encountered in Genesis 14. Christ is the priest-king with whom we are joined as his body.
The Kingdom of God is not a realm or territory. It is the rule of God as King. It is in the hearts and minds of those who have become a part of God’s New Creation. The church is not the Kingdom of God but represents the King of all creation to creation. I love the way Stevens distinguishes that it is not the purpose of the church to ‘bring in’ the church but rather to ‘bring in’ the Kingdom of God.
The first and most significant place we exercise our kingly authority is over our own passions and desires, to live in accord with the rule of God. Kings think ahead and try to discern what is best for there domain. They use their power to bring about that which is good for their domain. We do this in even the most mundane duties of life, bringing the values and concerns of God to bear on the work we do in the world.
To summarize the three offices at the end of the chapter, Stevens writes:
What do prophets do? Their work is discerning, communicating, exposing, seeing that justice is done, revealing outcomes – the very thing God’s people can do in corporations and homes. What do priests do? Their work is bridge building, mediating, expressing meaning, evoking faith, blessing, bringing grace – again what the whole of God’s people is able to do in the world. What do kings do? King work is ruling, organizing, planning, providing, nurturing, integrating, settling arguments, solving problems, co-ordinating, expediting, consummating – again ways that God’s people serve in so-called secular occupations, in church and in the home. (189)
I really like this chapter. I like the idea of Christ living out his threefold offices through his body the church. When I see service to God in this threefold way it becomes clear that everything we do can truly be ministry.
How about you? Does seeing ministry in this way have any particular meaning for you?