Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed…
Psalm 2 is the only place in the Old Testament where God’s Messiah, God’s King and God’s Son are all spoken of in one place. Christians cannot help but think of Jesus when they read this Psalm. All the other kings must answer to this one true king (Psalm 2:6), God’s own son (Psalm 2:7), the anointed (Psalm 2:2). Psalm 2 paints a picture of a king who expects his followers to daily submit their little kingdoms under his lordship.
At a recent conference I shared about a time when I engaged Dr. Tim Keller in a fascinating conversation on the unique challenges and opportunities of doing ministry in city centers. We had a particularly interesting chat about the specific sins that can plague a city’s ethos. Keller shared that he thought New Yorkers struggled particularly with thinking they were smarter than everyone else. They could be prone to disproportionately value academic or intellectual status as their badge of honor, blinding them to their need of the gospel. Keller said that this core sin could seep into the church and hinder gospel movements because everyone could think their church and their leaders are smarter than other churches and other church leaders. He said that the Spirit broke through and started a movement in New York City when they repented of this particular sin.
Then our discussion turned to Los Angeles, where I was considering taking a call to serve a church. I asked him, “What do you think L.A.’s core sin is?” He thought about it and suggested, “People come to L.A. to get famous and it’s about making your mark, becoming a star, no matter what industry you’re in. Maybe for L.A.—even the churches—it’s about our ego.” I said, “I think too often we care more about building our brand than building the kingdom. We’ve got to lay down our drivenness to build our brand.”
Keller says, “In every heart, then, there is a ‘Little King Herod’ that wants to rule and that is threatened by anything that may compromise its omnipotence and sovereignty. Each of us wants to be the captain of our own soul, the master of our own fate” (Hidden Christmas, p. 68).
My conversation with Tim Keller reminds me that in every city we struggle to yield to King Jesus, whether it’s because of intellectual arrogance, striving to build our brand, over-dependence on self, or some other barrier to following Jesus.
As we prepare for Holy Week, let us invite King Jesus to break down barriers within us and around us that resist God’s influence.
Something to Think About:
Do you think the city that you live in has a particular “sin” that struggles against the kingship of Jesus? Does your industry or specific workplace have a particular “kingdom” that needs addressing?
Do Keller’s words convict you that you struggle with wanting to rule your own little kingdom? Is “building our brand” a unique temptation to those living in cosmopolitan areas or something that is more pervasive regardless of location?
Something to Do:
Choose a Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday worship service in your city to attend; offer your little kingdom to the King of kings as you worship with others.
Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth to deal with the little king inside my heart. You want what is best for me and I need help realizing that running my own life without you at the center is foolish and ultimately unfulfilling. I repent of trying to rule my life and recommit to focus on losing my life in order to find it in you. Amen.