• Fr. Peter Kavanaugh

Is Christ Your King?

Is Christ the King of your heart?

Is He the King of your lifestyle, the King of your desires, the King of your thoughts?

On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic set off from Southampton, England on its voyage to America. This was the largest ship every built in history. With it’s own gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries, and restaurants, and its capacity of nearly 2,500 passengers, it’s no wonder the whole world marveled at what humanity could do. The Titanic was proof to many contemporaries that man had conquered nature, and perhaps even God. So when it hit an iceberg five days later and sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic, you can imagine the world’s shock. The Titanic sunk, but progress continued, and so did society’s opinion of itself. When the 1920’s arrived the world buzzed with excitement at the invention of automobiles, airplanes, radios, refrigerators and even vacuum cleaners. It was the birth of a new era, with new ideas and new possibilities.

But meanwhile, in the midst of all this commotion, the Church wasn’t silent either. She also had something to add. It was 1925 when she inaugurated a new feast day, the Feast of Christ the King, which we celebrate this morning. It couldn’t have been more timely. As a gentle prick to the ego of modern man, the feast reminds us, with our technologies, luxury, and busy lifestyles, to not forget who is King.

The expectation of this King is woven throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah tells us He will be Wonderful and Prince of Peace. Zachariah prophesies: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph! Behold, your king is coming to you.” Then the moment comes when the King is born on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, and he spends his days preparing for the kingdom. Finally, on his way to his coronation, death on the cross, Jesus proclaims himself to Pilate: “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.”

You can imagine the scene. These two very different kinds of kings stand face to face. The chasm between their worlds couldn’t be greater.

“My kingdom is not of this world,” He says. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

There are two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of men. You can’t have both.

Christ once put it this way. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Feast of Christ the King forever reminds us that we have a choice to make, and we have to make that choice every day and every moment until we take our final breath. Which one will it be?

Is Christ the King of your heart?

A French Archbishop named Marcel Lefebvre once had this to say about this feast.

“We need to do everything possible to extend this Kingdom of Jesus Christ in our souls, in our bodies, in our families, in our countries. We must extend the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in our minds by the prac­tice of the…Faith… We must extend this Kingdom of Jesus Christ in our wills, by following the laws of Jesus Christ, and in our families, so that He rules all the…faithful.”

We don’t have kings in America. So the word can sound a little archaic. It helps to look back to the older times when the king was at the heart of life. Everything revolved around him. The jobs, celebrations, and even wars were based on the will of the king. One’s entire culture was tied to the King. And so it has to be for us Christians who want to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Christianity is not a set of beliefs. It is a way of being.

It is not spirituality. It is a lifestyle.

Christianity is a culture. It is a kingdom. To live a Christian life is to invite that Kingdom into every corner of our hearts and into every action that we make.

Nowadays, it has become too easy to be a complacent Christian, and we fool ourselves. But there’s a simple test to discern who is truly the King of your heart. What are your priorities?

How do we spend our time? Do we schedule our vacations and commitments around the major Feast Days of the Church? Or do these Feast Days come second or third or forth on our list of things to do?

How do we balance our checkbooks? Do we tithe the first fruits of our income? Or do we give the change that’s left over after we’ve invested in what really seems to matter?

Does our lifestyle look radically different than the lifestyles of people around us?

As Flannery O’Conner once wrote, you must “push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” To be a true Christian, we have to constantly examine and re-examine our lifestyle so that every part of who we are is gradually converted to the Culture of the Church.

It’s hard for us Americans to think this way. We’re consumerists after all. Just walk down the aisles of any supermarket. We are so used to picking and choosing the brand of detergent or ice-cream that tickles our fancy that we take that same attitude into religion. We look for the church that makes us comfortable rather than the church that has the Truth. I heard someone say the other day that they liked Orthodoxy, but the worship was too formal for them. But that’s missing the whole point. The question shouldn’t be what kind of worship you prefer. The question should be what kind of worship is best for you. What worship will change you and make you more like God? Christ didn’t give us the Church and say, “Here you go, change it however you want.” He said, “Here’s the Church, let it change you.” This is what it means to be Christian. To be in a constant strength to conform your culture to the culture of Christ.

This is a struggle and an urgent struggle, but it is not a burden. It’s freedom.

If your heart is anchored to this world and the ways of this world, then you’ll end up depressed and bitter. Your heart will plummet like the Titanic. But if your heart is anchored to Christ, and the culture of your home is the Culture of the Church, then nothing can take away your peace and joy. The sinking of the Titanic should serve as a constant reminder that, in its time, everything of this world will sink, and if we love the world we will sink with it. But the Church is that boat which stands the floods of time and sails for eternity.

I will end with one more story.

Have you heard of the ancient Gauls? They were feared throughout the Roman Empire as a violent and ruthless people. Eventually, Christianity spread their ways, but in the first days, the missionaries noticed a peculiar custom.

As the warriors were being baptized, they had a peculiar habit of holding up an arm above the water. At first, the missionaries were baffled, and figured it was some funny custom of the Gauls. But the meaning became clear soon enough. As soon as a battle started up, these new Christians would grab their sword and yell: “This arm is not baptized!” Then they’d ride off to fight.

The point is clear. That’s not allowed. You can’t have a little bit of Christ and a little bit of the devil. In order to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, we have to give everything to God. That means 100%.

Your time, your desires, your lifestyle, your investments, your thoughts, your heart all belong to God.

Christ is King, so glorify Him.

Saint Benedict Orthodox Church

3808 Seymour Road

Wichita Falls, TX, 76309