Through Christ’s sufferings and death, he reigned. In fact, this was perhaps his greatest single act of reigning. This is a profound statement considering the fact that we might perceive his greatest act of reigning to have something to do with a scepter, a crown or even a throne.
Consider Philippians 2:6-9 which says,
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.
At the very least this should cause us to reflect more deeply on Christ’s life. But even more than that it should cause us to re-think what it means to reign with Christ in the here and now. Clay Jones, professor at Biola University says,
His (God’s) ultimate goal for us isn’t for victory in boardrooms or on battlefields (although, on occasion, that is part of it). The victory He’s interested in isn’t measured with financial statements, in batting or earned run averages, in salaries, in sales, or in medals. Our victory is different.
But if our present day reigning isn’t expressed through our positions, bank statements or accolades, than how is it expressed? According to Jones, Jesus reigned by enduring suffering rather than avoiding it. Jesus reigned by sacrificing himself in order that others could experience reconciliation with God. Jesus cared for and cultivated the world around him by displaying God’s character and glory through suffering. And Jesus reminded his own disciples that by following him they will also walk a similar path of suffering and self-denial. (Matthew 16:24-26).
Paul reminds us that God’s strength is displayed through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Today, reigning like this is typified in our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Because of their apparent weakness, we often pity them or even think they need rescuing. But God honors them and uses them to display his glory in some of the most challenging places on the earth.
Has God used suffering as an occasion to reign in your own life?