God No More: The Fate of Monarchies and the Christian Condition
There are few monarchies left on earth. There are only 28 monarchies left in the world and only seven endowed with absolute rule. The concept of kings and queens is irrelevant to those nations that do not have them. For most nations that still honor the tradition of the monarchy, the throne and its incumbents are relegated to positions as figureheads of state or parliament, maintaining a certain respectability but stripped of any true power or agency.
Like the monarchs of England and Norway, who have become artifacts of their nation, so is God the artifact of the Christian empire. The kingdom Jesus spoke of so passionately, the plight that led him to a gruesome and brutal death has fallen into the hands of parliaments, and Christ has become a symbol of the church, much like the cross, a decorative article stripped of any true authority.
Nowhere is the dissolution of the Christian monarchy as evident as the rejection of the identity of God. God is Love. John’s simple definition of the divine requires an adaptation of this characteristic in order to have intimacy or knowledge of God (1 John 4:8 "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."). Though other true descriptors have been used for God like healer and comforter, Jesus personally endorsed the notion of love as the defining characteristic of God. When asked what is the greatest of the laws, He stated, love the Lord your God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22: 37-40). Since we were created to be God’s image in the world, this love is his full representation.
Jesus also went through the trouble of defining neighbor as not just the members of your tribe, the people in your community, or investors in your outcome – but all humanity. Even those who do not serve your God, who require your protection with no collateral to secure your investment, are to be the object of your love.
If the monarchy of God has succumbed to the same fate as most world monarchies, and God is love, then perhaps we can conclude that love has become a figurehead of the church; maintaining some respectability but having no power or agency.
Like the priest and the Levite in the parable of The Good Samaritan, we have knowledge of what is required of the Lord but no will or drive to act outside of our own self-interest. Love is not a good enough reason to act. God is not a good enough reason to act. We are invested in what is ours: our lands, our homes, our finances and our families. All else are outsiders and a potential risk to our investments. And because God is but a figurehead in the lives of his people, we can still claim Christianity, like England claims a monarchy.
Larry Crabb states that “beneath much of our claim of orthodoxy, there is a moral cowardice that reflects poorly on our confidence in Christ.” (Larry Crabb, Inside Out ), p19.) We do not fight to change the laws that relegate sections of our society into poverty or criminality because the disenfranchised have no collateral to back our investments, because the road between Jericho and Jerusalem is treacherous and we cannot be delayed, else we may fall victim to that same treachery. Love and God are but figureheads of state and parliament, with no power or agency.
Martin Luther King Jr stated that “the church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state and never its tool.” (Martin Luther King Jr. Strength to love , p59) However, the tragedy of the church in American society is that we are the state and we are the parliament. The dissolution of the monarchy of God is not inflicted upon us but is engaged through us. We are a kingdom divided over the very identity of God – Love. And without that identity the warnings of Dr. King rings true, we become “an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority,”( King Jr. Strength to love, p59.) cowards with no faith in the strength of our monarch.
Nikki Brown was born in Jamaica West Indies, but grew up in New York. She is currently working on her project for a Doctorate Degree in Ministry from South University. She co-leads local outreach at Capital Life Church in Arlington, VA which include homeless and prison ministry. She is passionate about writing and enjoys time with her kids and husband running around the DMV area.