20 November 2013

The crownless again shall be king

As Governor Pat Quinn (D-Chicago) prepares to sign the ill-titled Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, the State Journal-Register has finally realized that "gay marriage raises questions for Illinois businesses."  Without really getting into specifics or even answering any real questions, the SJR notes, briefly:
While the new legislation - expected to be signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn - says religious institutions, clergy and some private clubs don't have to allow or officiate gay weddings, it's not as clear for the florists, caterers, tailors and photographers and others who don't want to participate. That could result in more court battles in President Barack Obama's home state, just as other states have seen, and attorneys on both sides of the issue are gearing up for it.
The article apparently aims to address the real consequence of the governmental attempt to redefine marriage, namely that "for some business owners, it may mean putting their personal beliefs aside," which has been the constant argument raised in the challenges to this legislation, the argument that both the media and the politicians were quite happy to ignore, dismiss, or claim were false.

A sizable part of the article concerns Virginia Pruitt, who owns Wedding Visions by Virginia located in Plainfield.  Ms. Pruitt is quoted as saying, "I have to separate to a certain extent, my beliefs from that of the business. I am a Christian, the business is a business."  Hers is a claim that is made far too often and by far too many who claim the name of Christian and, frankly, it is quite contrary to Christian faith.

To be able to make a such a claim, one has to acknowledge that one's faith does not permeate every aspect of one's life.  It should be remembered that the Lord Jesus does not make a claim over merely a part of our lives, but over our entire lives: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

It is not possible to compartmentalize our lives in such a way that the Lord has control over, say, a few moments each day and an hour or so each Sunday.  Either we follow him, or we do not.

To the Church of Laodicea, the Lord addressed these words through his angel: "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16).  These words he might well address also to those who claim to follow him, but not in all things.

This weekend we will celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and, as such, it is a fitting time for us to ask in all sincerity, "Have I willingly placed all of my life under the reign of Christ? Am I keeping something for myself? Am I king of my life, or is he?"

When Gandalf the Grey wrote to Frodo Baggins concerning Aragorn, he wrote, among other things, "the crownless again shall be king" (The Lord of the Rings, 1.10).

When the John the Beloved saw of the worship of God in heaven, he saw "the twenty-four elders fall down before him was is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne" (Revelation 4:10).

By virtue of the grace of Baptism, each of us shares in the kingly mission of Jesus:
These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world (Lumen Gentium, 31).
So it is, then, that we might well say that in Baptism we have each received a crown that may well symbolize both our free will and obedience.

To the Church in Philadelphia, the Lord addressed these words through his angel: "I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown" (Revelation 3:11).  If we seek to live our lives for ourselves and insist on being our own masters, then our crowns will certainly be taking away from us; but if we instead willingly cast our crowns at the feet of the one who is worthy, giving our obedience to "that King for whom to serve is to reign," we shall surely receive our crowns again, for he says, "He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne" (Lumen Gentium, 36; Revelation 3:21).

Yes, the crownless again shall be king.  We can either keep our crown now to have it taken away from us for eternity; or willingly part it with now to receive it again in eternity.

Which will you choose?

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