In so doing, we take on the role originally given Adam and Eve and lost to them through sin. And so we help draw heaven and earth, man and God closer to together. We help bring the Kingdom to its fullness.
We are kings but not like the kings of this world.
(Mat 20:25-28 ESV) 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We are God’s emissaries. We serve under and by his authority — having none of our own. And like God, our purpose is to serve others. We don’t rule for our own sake but for the sake of God, his people, and his Creation.
(Mat 5:43-48 ESV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Psa 145:9 NAS) 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.
This requires a heart of service, submission, and sacrifice. Indeed, it requires a willingness to suffer for the sake of others — others who do not deserve it. After all, we emulate Jesus who gave “his life as a ransom for many.”
At first glance, it seems to make no sense to refer to those taking on such a role as “kings,” but in other contexts, we readily realize that the superior serves the inferior. Parents serve their children. Indeed, the more helpless and weak the child, the more servant-hearted the parent must be.
Thus, as God equips us with knowledge of his nature and wisdom, we aren’t enabled to command others to serve us. No, these gifts compel us to serve others.
And we are also priests of God Most High. As such, we are called to worship God by caring for and cultivating his Creation — but his Creation is much more than the planet. It’s also his people, whom we must also care for and cultivate. After all, it’s the function of priests to call others to worship.
We cannot become pantheists, worshipping the Creation. But we do honor the Creation as God’s gift to mankind that must be preserved and maintained until Jesus returns and heaven and earth are merged. But neither does our calling to preserve the Creation keep us from cultivating the Creation to serve God’s people.
We do not imagine that true happiness is found in rejecting all man’s inventions and improvements and returning entirely to nature. Neither do we imagine that nature is evil and to be defeated for the sake of man — as though good can only come from the imaginings of humans.
Rather, it’s in the union of Creation with man, all under the oversight of God, that God’s blessings are most fully realized. After all, it was sin that separated mankind from Eden. Dividing man from nature is sin — at either extreme.
A bit more subtle, perhaps, is the idea inherent in Genesis 1 that man is created to be creative. We are made in the image of God — and God introduces himself to his readers in Genesis 1 at the Creator.
Men are co-creators — not that we can create a universe with a word but that God has implanted within us a spark of creativity to be used for his purposes.
(Exo 31:2-5 ESV) 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”
God gave his Spirit to artists to build the tabernacle “in every craft.” That is, every kind of art known to man was to be used to celebrate God’s presence among the people — and, indeed, God’s Spirit enables artistry in honor of God.
And yet there’s an iconoclastic streak running through Protestantism that is uncomfortable with the arts. We are far more comfortable with the intellectual side of our humanity than the creative, artistic side. But the Scriptures contain far more poetry than systematic theology, and far more story telling than syllogisms.
Surely, there’s a place in the Kingdom for the poet, the story teller, the painter, and the sculptor!
Finally, as priests, we are to call all others to worship. Sharing Jesus with the lost is a distinctly priestly function. Indeed, as God’s emissaries, we announce the good news of the kingdom to the world — just as Jesus did.
And there’s more …