I played football in high school. I was a number 5 defender and I did a pretty good job at it. Like many other players, I had a substitute. Whenever I got injured, fatigued or I under-performed, I was asked by the coach to take the bench and a fresh player would take my position. At times, you have to take the bench so that other players can also get to play. If you love sports like football that require team effort, you know that the bench is not the best place to be.
You are helpless, alone and watching as the outcome of the game plays out. If you’ve practised hard and trained well, you want to be in the game. It can be deflating to be placed on the bench the entire game when you really prepared to play. Let’s switch gears. Consider a throne. It’s not an ordinary chair. It’s not found at the dinner table of the leisure room. Thrones are not found in common houses or out on the street. Neither are they found in football fields. Thrones are found in Kingdoms; in palaces. And unlike a bench, few people sit on thrones- royalty. Unlike the football bench, the throne is longed for. It is craved for and it holds the one we submit to. Unlike the bench, a throne gives one full control of the decisions in a kingdom. A throne is like a magic wand; whoever sits on it decides how life plays out. The bench holds one who submits to authority. The throne holds one WITH authority.
To have a fool on the throne is a world of a disaster. To have a King on a bench is an unfortunate ordeal. This analogy reflects on the Lordship of Christ in the life of a believer. Every follower of Jesus has a bench and a throne. Jesus is seated on one and the Christian on the other. In your life, is Jesus Christ on the bench or is he on the throne? The following areas (although not exhaustive) are key in the life of every believer.
- Jesus on the bench of my sexuality
I once heard a pastor say that there are many sexual atheists among believers today. What does that mean? That means that believers believe in God and trust in him to run many areas of their lives except this one- sex. In short, Jesus is on the bench of their sexual life; he is not on the throne. While dating my wife, Waturi, this area of temptation was very frequent. As a follower of Christ, I knew the scriptures and the call for sexual purity. However, Jesus was on the bench for sometime because I thought I knew best how to handle this area. When it became a problem, I would invite him to take charge. When things went well, I put him on the bench and returned to take control. The cycle became vicious. I realized that I used Christ only when I needed him and put him to sit when I wanted to run things my way. Jesus wasn’t Lord; he was a waiter, or if you like, a water boy on the bench. And so it is with some followers of Christ. The call to wait for sex until marriage has not been honoured because we think ourselves wise. Yet in light of God’s wisdom, we are otherwise. (See what I just did there). Whenever invited to speak about purity in youth groups, I always say this: Your devotion to sexual purity isn’t to a church, to your parents or to your accountability group. Your devotion to wait for sex until marriage should be to the person who died for you- Christ! If you are devoted to anything or anyone else apart from Christ to wait for sex until marriage, you will grow frustrated and you will fail. You will look at it as an uphill task that you endure. Your focus will be to please people, please your pastor, please your parents but never to please God. Beloved, if your devotion is to Christ purely and in light of the sacrifice on the cross for you, you will realize that sexual purity is a small cost to pay in worship of the one who gave you his life.
Some say that their devotion to sexual purity is to their future spouse. It sounds romantic, however, it is not enough, because like every other human, your future spouse (before you marry them) can be tempted to sin with their sexuality. They could tempt you to sin. What happens when the one you are devoted to is weak and failing? Only a devotion to Christ can hold you firm in a world where purity is mocked, derided and laughed at. If your devotion to purity as a Christian is to prove to your friends that you can make it, you will be frustrated the day the hormones override your willpower. Our devotion to Christ isn’t mere will power; it is the Spirit of God input in us; and that Spirit ensures that we are never tempted beyond strength accorded to us (1st Corinthians 10:13). Every devotion to sexual purity that is not to Christ is placing Jesus on the bench. When our devotion to purity is to the God-man who was brutally injured, bruised, scarred beyond recognition and crucified so that you and I would live, Jesus seats on the throne and we live victoriously even when all your friends are saying purity is overrated. Our devotion to purity becomes an obedience that responds in awe of Jesus’ love for you. And blessed is the person that walks with another believer who has Jesus on the throne of their sexual life. Is Jesus on the bench or on the throne of your sexuality?
- Jesus on the bench of my finances
A second sensitive area that followers of Christ refuse to enthrone the Saviour is money. One of the Bible’s most talked about subject is money. Jesus talked about it so many times and in almost each time, he linked money with an individual’s spirituality. Jesus taught how money and possessions can shake a person’s trust in God. Jesus taught that money gives false security in the parable of the Rich fool (Luke 12:13-21). He taught how the love of it can hinder one’s eternal life. He taught how important it was to give it away. He taught how important it was to give the money due to government and due to God. Jesus taught us that financial decisions are spiritual decisions. Along with several Biblical teachings we learn that money in itself is not a terrible thing but the love of it is a root to all kinds of evil. Jesus seats on the bench of our finances when we refuse to give away money. When we give our money, our heart’s affection follows. Christ said where our treasure is our hearts will be. Paul the Apostle expounded on the money topic by stating to give generously and not merely the ritualistic 10 % (2nd Corinthians 8-9). It wasn’t mere theory. The 1stCentury Christians gave away tracts of lands, houses and lots of wealth so that there was no poor among them (Acts 4:32-36). In that passage, the Bible says that there was no needy among them. Why? Jesus was on the throne of their finances.
When Jesus is on the bench of our finances, there are large gaps between the rich and the poor that are hardly bridged. The best way to keep Jesus on the throne of your finances is to be generous with your money. Give. C.S Lewis in The Screwtape Letters taught that if you hold onto money or hoard it, you may begin to think that your prosperity has led you to find your place in this world yet it’s quite the contrary; the world has begun to find its place in you. When Jesus is on the bench of our finances, we think that we own the things we have. However, when Jesus is on the throne of our finances, we realize that we are merely brokers and that The Lord owns everything. The Lord owns everything. Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” When Jesus is on the throne you know that when God gives anything, he never loses ownership of it. I believe that the Lord wants to entrust money to many believers who will use it to serve others and serve God. The danger of bad stewardship is that that we get the money and we fail to alleviate poverty, help the needy, build culture, grow the gifts we have and enjoy it in a decent godly way. When Jesus is on the bench, our tendency with money is to hoard it, amass it for ourselves and to gain leverage over others. As Jesus taught, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things.” (Luke 12:15). When Jesus is on the throne of your finances, you realize that money decisions are spiritual decisions and that money is a tool to be used for selfless good. Is Jesus on the bench or on the throne of your finances?
- Jesus on the bench of my relationships with those that don’t agree with me
One big lie that the world has bought is to think that if we have to love people, they have to agree with us. With a global world reduced to an Internet URL to a social media site, encountering people who do not agree with you is as common as the air we breathe. The Bible teaches that we will constantly encounter diverse people. In 1st Peter 3:15, God calls for gentleness and respect when sharing the hope of Christ to unbelievers. In Romans 12:18, the Lord says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everybody.” I like Romans 12:18 because it highlights two important areas when diversity meets: the possibility of peace and the responsibility of the Christian. When Jesus is on the throne of our relationships with those that don’t agree with us, we remain cognizant that there is a possibility of living at peace with everybody. Secondly, we realize that the mandate for peace rests on us. At times, the trouble with a rejected message of the gospel isn’t necessarily the veracity of the good news but the bad example of the vessel speaking the message. You can shout like an angry prophet why your doctrine is true but a difference won’t be made if your words are not seasoned with salt and spoken with gentleness and respect. The trouble that brews with a vessel ready to fire truth bullets is that they focus on winning arguments and fail to win people. Christ often won people when sharing the truth. A won person can receive a difficult truth. The gospel’s aim is to win souls even at the expense of losing some arguments.
Truth will never be easily palpable. But the miracle of conversion, the beauty of transformation and the possibility of a changed life is seen when a gracious follower of Jesus gives a difficult message and it is openly received by a once unwilling unbeliever. The message of the gospel is infallible but an insensitive vessel sent to speak the word can intoxicate that truth with the terrible example of their tongues. Remember Beloved, that the wrath of man does not bring about the righteousness of God. Don’t allow your passion for God to drown out your compassion for people. Some prefer to see God’s judgement on others rather than his salvation. The command of peace in Romans 12:18 is irrespective of the other person’s creed, sexual orientation, belief system etc. Must we agree with them? Of course not, but we must observe peace and we must love them as Christ commanded. Must we refuse to speak the truths of the Scriptures because of them? Certainly not. But we are to speak these scriptures in gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). I also like Romans 12:18 because it says, “if it is possible…” That speaks to me a very important truth: that peace is not a guarantee. It’s not a guarantee but we should pursue it all costs. That even though a believer remains gentle, respectful and strives towards peace, at times there may be no peace from an opposing party. It’s not a guarantee. Why? Because we live in a world where the Spirit of Christ is an enemy to the Spirit of the enemy. It’s more than social interaction; there is a spiritual contact that’s incompatible. In light of that, Christ will go against many accepted norms just like he did when he lived as a human on earth. He was the Prince of Peace yet he was crucified by an irate mob.
And when you suffer for doing good (like Jesus), being respectful and being kind, count it all as joy because it will build you up in the faith (James 1:2). Think about the relationships you as a Christian have with homosexuals, people of other religions, people living in open sin, etc. Is Jesus on the throne or is he on the bench? Christ wants to save these people too. You could be a vessel of love and grace if you allow Christ on the throne and keep him off the bench. On the bench, your opinion matters; on the throne, His Sovereignty is supreme. On the bench, you win arguments; on the throne souls are won. Love people even when you don’t agree with them. Is Jesus on the bench or on the throne of your relationships?
These are just but three arenas in life where we often place Jesus on the bench and deny him Lordship on the throne. Do an audit of yourself and look at other areas: your physical health- is Jesus on the throne? Your submission to authority- Is Jesus on the throne? Your marriage- Is Jesus on the throne? Your entertainment- is Jesus on the throne? I would like to conclude by stating why the follower of Jesus denies Christ the throne. These reasons are not exhaustive but they stand out.
Why we fear the throne because:
We think the Monarch on the throne is not benevolent.
There resides in us a sinful thought that God would send us to a remote tribe in West Africa to live a difficult and horrible life as a missionary if we surrender to him. It is a fear that the Monarch we give the throne to is a dictator. That God is a tyrant who will not get us a husband- so we “liberate” ourselves to have sex lest we miss out. That God is a tyrant who wants us to die poor, so my money is my money and mine alone. We insist on showing the people we disagree with their faults because we think God will only use us to save them. In all this, we doubt the benevolence of Jesus on the throne, Beloved. But you need to realize that if Christ was that dictator who pushes his will down our throats, he would have done it a long time ago. Dictators do not wait patiently to be accorded their respect; they take it. Christ forces his way on no man. Dictators don’t allow to be placed on benches; they conquer their way to the throne. Yet, the conquest of Christ is through benevolence. As the famous Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist…Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.” If a man of war could sense the benevolence of Christ, why would we doubt it? To surrender Jesus to the throne is to surrender to a Monarch of love. Allow Jesus on the throne of your sexuality, finances and relationships, for he is a gentle saviour with plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Secondly, we fear surrendering the throne to Christ because:
Jesus on a bench gives us control; Jesus on a throne involves surrender
I can tell you this: For the many times, I have put Jesus on the bench, the lessons have been painful and hard. A Christian who refuses to surrender to the Lordship of Christ is a proud Christian. They think they know how their life should run. Christ becomes a consultant and an advisor and ceases to be a Saviour. And like every proud heart, disaster is just a matter of time. Do you think you know better concerning your sexuality, your money and your relationships? If so, you have a huge wall of pride that will only come down with the sledgehammers of confession and humility. Last I checked, the Creator knew the created better than he knew himself. I have also surrendered to the Lordship of Christ severally and I could tell you lots of stories of how the best parts of my life have come out of them. The believer who desires it must be willing to lose control and leave it to Christ. It is a scary thought to lose control. However, if I’ve learnt anything, when you lose your life, then do you find it.
Is Jesus on the bench or is he on the throne?