There is this odd passage in Ephesians —
(Eph 2:4-7 ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
V. 6 says that God “raised us up with [Jesus] and seated us with him in the heavenly places.” “Raised … up” translates a word used for raising the dead. In baptism, we died to Christ and were raised to sit in heaven on Jesus’ throne with him.
“Seated” is about sitting on Jesus’ throne. We know this from Eph 1:20, which says God seated Jesus at God’s right hand, putting all thing under his feet, that is, all things other than the church. V. 22 says God did this “for” the church, not “to” the church. The church, rather, is pictured as Christ’s body (1:22) sitting on the throne, with Jesus as head of the body. That is, both Jesus and his church sit on the throne, constituting a singular being.
This is strange language to our ears. But it recalls, once again, Gen 1:26-28. This time the reference is to God giving man, male and female, “dominion” or “rule” over the creation.
This passage is paralleled in Psalm 8 —
(Psa 8:3-8 ESV) 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
And the same concept pops up in the Revelation —
(Rev 20:4a ESV) Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.
(Rev 22:4-5 ESV) 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
So we see that, in the next age, the saints will reign with God — somehow or other. I do not pretend to fully understand this. But Gen 1:26-28 says that, before the Fall of Man and curse of Creation, mankind had already been given rule over the Creation.
Psalm 8 says that this continues even today — but, of course, it’s now a broken, fallen rule. We humans have the power to destroy or rescue this planet. The power is very much in our hands, but we are broken creatures.
Fortunately, God is in the process of fixing things — including us. Christians receive the Spirit and are being reshaped into the image of God and Jesus. And part of this image is the image of a king who rules in righteousness and justice over the Creation.
When we were saved, we received not only the Spirit of dominion over the Creation, we were lifted up to sit with Jesus on his throne. Rather than sitting on the broken, fallen throne of Adam, we sit on the throne with Jesus, charged with concern and care for the Creation.
Yep, this is Christian environmentalism — which doesn’t have much to do with political or secular environmentalism. We don’t worship Mother Gaia, but we do take seriously God’s charge to Adam —
(Gen 2:15 ESV) The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
“Work” and “keep” are both words associated with the priesthood. We are God’s priests in God’s garden. And our job is to “keep” — that is, to protect and preserve — the garden, while we also “work” — make productive for human use — the garden. We are charged with balancing preserving the Creation and using the Creation to support humanity’s needs.
Thus, it’s no surprise to read,
(Rev 22:1-2 ESV) Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The new heavens and new earth will also be a garden.
Notice that our kingship is connected to our being restored to the image of God. And the image of God is connected to the cross. We are given dominion so that we may be kings like Jesus — kings who give themselves up for the sake of their enemies and the undeserving.
We aren’t to be like the rulers of this world.
(Mat 20:25-28 NIV) 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
And so, if the Christians were to gain control of Congress, how should a Christian Congress behave? Seen any signs of that lately?