True authority is what you have left when the big stick is ripped right out of your hands; when the masquerade is over, Jesus threw his big stick away, emptied himself and walked this earth as a working-class man but He still had authority – banishing demons, sickness and corrupt spiritual leaders.
Even His nakedness on a cross couldn’t strip Christ of His dignity and authority. Both crucified crook and trembling centurion hung and stood unable to stop themselves from confessing their conviction.
Stripped of blinding panoply, clothed with humanity and without miracles, the crucified Jesus revealed the source of His authority and the real sceptre in His hand. Jesus’ power emanates from the beauty of His character and His sceptre is the authority of truth. The truth has it’s own power to convict. It needs no coercive authority.
Jesus poured this beauty into the church so that we could spread it to the world. The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom with a crucified king as its coat of arms. It is a kingdom whose law is truth and love. Its borders, consequentially, cannot be spread by conquest and cannot enclose crushing domination and underhanded manipulation as governing principles. No, it can only be a kingdom of subjects joining hands in love, soaked in truth and eagerly sharing the beauty of it all with those outside, bidding them join the happy throng.
How then, does the church storm the legislature, demanding it makes laws enforcing worship? How do Christians grab the state by the collar and demand it take on the impossible identity of a Christian Nation (what on earth is that?)? Only when it loses sight of who Jesus is. Only when it turns from the beauty of His character, throws His sceptre of truth away and lusts after the fake son of Satan’s fake trinity – institutionalised self-righteousness. The choice before the church is simple: humility or megalomania; the slain lamb or the horrific beast.