It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe that every kingdom belongs to the realm of a king; simply by definition a kingdom is a king’s domain. There is no established size to a kingdom—the extent of the realm depends mainly on geography and the might of the king.
In the West we don’t talk in kingdom terms these days. Kingdoms, after all, are not very democratic. We don’t think it’s right for the average person not to have a voice (or apparent voice) in the affairs of the state. Even in nations with a king or queen, such as the United Kingdom, the monarch’s power is diminished greatly by a constitutional monarchy.
The move away from absolute monarchies has taken place for a very good reason—despotism. Time and time again, citizens of countries across the globe have learned (in an all-too-real manner) the importance of limiting the power of their leaders. One of the more recent efforts took place in Libya as the people sacrificially fought to bring down Muammar Gaddafi, the self-appointed king of kings of Africa.
In March of 2009 Gaddafi stormed out of an Arab summit proclaiming: “I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam (leader) of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level.”
Without question Gaddafi was an eccentric, often exhibiting bizarre behavior. But still his comments are typical of human thinking, “My . . . status will not allow me to descend to a lower level.”
We’ve learned to utilize governmental structures to limit the human lusts for power and self-exaltation, but human nature has failed to evolve beyond these base desires. Instead, narcissism, the desire to be a god, is on the rise in Western culture. Whether it be in the home, the local country club, or the church, we constantly see these tendencies played out on a day to day basis. I’ll go into greater detail in the future, but for now I’d like to contrast the natural human tendency toward self-exaltation with the life of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was an extreme radical in His day for more than one reason. There’s no question that He proclaimed His own deity, but His attitudes and actions were often the opposite of what one would expect from the true King of Kings. Jesus purposely went lower instead of higher. Rather than parade with kings and priests, Jesus mingled with not only common people, but with the outcasts that even the commoners despised. I think it safe to say that many cultures value humility as a virtue mostly because of the life of Christ.
Humility is a conflict killer. Many an explosive situation can be diffused simply by descending to a lower level. Pride always takes offense. Humility looks beyond personal offense and is able to honor others even in the midst of heated conflict.
Last week I had an encounter with a woman who was spittin’ mad at me for a wrong that I did not do. My natural tendency may have been to respond with anger, but instead I choose to bite my lip and follow Christ’s example by treating her with respect and listening to her concerns. Before long the situation had been diffused and she was showing me pictures of her pet!
It is my experience that people in our culture are becoming increasingly harsh and territorial. This trend coincides with a progression away from Biblical Christianity toward secularization. A few secularists see humility as a virtue, but in general humility makes little sense apart from a religious context. All of this means that the prevalence of conflict around us isn’t going diminish anytime soon.
Our Lord once said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” Matthew 5:9 (ESV). Those who want to be conflict killers can only do so as they surrender to the humble nature of our Lord and Savior.