Loyally Serving Christ the King
“To him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.”—DANIEL 7:14.
1, 2. How do we know that Christ did not assume full Kingdom power in 33 C.E.?
WHAT ruler could give his life for his subjects yet live again to rule as king? What king could live on earth, building trust and loyalty in his subjects, and then rule from heaven? The only person who could do this—and more—is Jesus Christ. (Luke 1:32, 33) At Pentecost 33 C.E., after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, God “made him head over all things to the congregation.” (Ephesians 1:20-22; Acts 2:32-36) Christ thus began to rule but in a limited sense. His initial subjects were spirit-anointed Christians, who made up spiritual Israel, “the Israel of God.”—Galatians 6:16; Colossians 1:13.
2 Almost 30 years after that Pentecost in 33 C.E., the apostle Paul confirmed that Christ had not yet taken full Kingdom power, but he was “at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Hebrews 10:12, 13) Then, near the end of the first century C.E., the aged apostle John foresaw in a vision the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah, installing Christ Jesus as King of the newborn heavenly Kingdom. (Revelation 11:15; 12:1-5) From our vantage point in history, we can review the overwhelming evidence confirming that Christ began to rule as Messianic King in heaven in 1914.*
3. (a) The good news of the Kingdom has taken on what new aspect since 1914? (b) What questions can we ask ourselves?
3 Yes, since 1914 the good news of the Kingdom has taken on a thrilling new aspect. Christ has actively been ruling as King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, although “in the midst of [his] enemies.” (Psalm 110:1, 2; Matthew 24:14; Revelation 12:7-12) Moreover, throughout the earth, his loyal subjects are responding eagerly to his authority by participating in a global Bible education program unequaled in mankind’s history. (Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 28:18) Spirit-anointed Christians, “sons of the kingdom,” serve as “ambassadors substituting for Christ.” They are loyally supported by a flourishing throng of Christ’s “other sheep,” who function as envoys of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 13:38; 2 Corinthians 5:20; John 10:16) Even so, we need to analyze whether we as individuals truly recognize Christ’s authority. Are we unflinchingly loyal to him? How can we show loyalty to a King who rules in heaven? Let us first discuss, though, what reasons we have for being loyal to Christ.
A King Who Inspires Loyalty
4. What did Jesus accomplish as King-Designate during his earthly ministry?
4 Our loyalty to Christ is founded on appreciation for what he did as well as for his outstanding qualities. (1 Peter 1:8) While on earth, Jesus as King-Designate displayed on a small scale what he will do as reigning King on a global scale in God’s due time. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick, the blind, the disabled, the deaf, and the speechless. He even brought some dead individuals back to life. (Matthew 15:30, 31; Luke 7:11-16; John 6:5-13) Additionally, having knowledge of Jesus’ life on earth enables us to get to know his qualities as earth’s future Ruler—most notably his self-sacrificing love. (Mark 1:40-45) In this connection, Napoléon Bonaparte reportedly said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires, but upon what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his kingdom upon love, and at this day millions of men would die for him.”
5. Why was Jesus’ personality so appealing?
5 Because Jesus was mild-tempered and lowly in heart, those who were weighed down with pressures and burdens were refreshed by his upbuilding teachings and kind personality. (Matthew 11:28-30) Children were at ease with him. Humble, discerning men eagerly became his disciples. (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 10:13-16) His considerate and respectful manner won him the loyalty of many God-fearing women, a number of whom contributed their time, effort, and material possessions to care for him as he performed his ministry.—Luke 8:1-3.
6. What tender emotions did Jesus reveal when Lazarus died?
6 Christ revealed some of his most tender feelings when his dear friend Lazarus died. He was so deeply moved by Mary and Martha’s anguish that he could not restrain a grief-stricken groan, and he “gave way to tears.” He “became troubled”—agitated by great heartache and sorrow—even though he knew that he was shortly going to bring Lazarus back to life. Then, moved by love and compassion, Jesus exercised his God-given authority and raised Lazarus from the dead.—John 11:11-15, 33-35, 38-44.
7. Why is Jesus worthy of our loyalty? (See also box on page 31.)
7 We stand in awe of Jesus’ strong love for what was right and his abhorrence of hypocrisy and wickedness. Twice he took bold action to clear the temple of greedy merchants. (Matthew 21:12, 13; John 2:14-17) Furthermore, as a human on earth, he was exposed to all kinds of adversity, giving him firsthand insight into the pressures and problems that we face. (Hebrews 5:7-9) Jesus also knew what it was like to be the victim of hatred and injustice. (John 5:15-18; 11:53, 54; 18:38–19:16) Ultimately, he courageously submitted to a brutal death to accomplish his Father’s will and give his subjects everlasting life. (John 3:16) Do such qualities of Christ not move you to continue serving him loyally? (Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 5:6-10) But what is required to be a subject of Christ the King?
Qualifying to Be a Subject
8. What is required of subjects of Christ?
8 Think of this comparison: Becoming a citizen of another country usually entails meeting certain basic qualifications. Prospective citizens may be required to be of good character and to meet certain health standards. Similarly, subjects of Christ need to maintain high standards of morality and good spiritual health.—1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-23.
9. How can we show that we are loyal to Christ?
9 Jesus Christ also rightly requires that his subjects are loyal to him and his Kingdom. They show such loyalty by living in harmony with what he taught when he was on earth as King-Designate. For instance, they put Kingdom interests and God’s will ahead of material concerns. (Matthew 6:31-34) They also earnestly try to reflect a Christlike personality, even under the most trying circumstances. (1 Peter 2:21-23) Further, Christ’s subjects follow his example by taking the initiative to do good to others.—Matthew 7:12; John 13:3-17.
10. How can loyalty to Christ be displayed in (a) the family and (b) the congregation?
10 Jesus’ followers also show their loyalty to him by reflecting his qualities in the family. For instance, husbands show loyalty to their heavenly King by the Christlike way they treat their wives and children. (Ephesians 5:25, 28-30; 6:4; 1 Peter 3:7) Wives show loyalty to Christ by chaste conduct and by displaying “the quiet and mild spirit.” (1 Peter 3:1-4; Ephesians 5:22-24) Children are loyal to Christ when they follow his example of obedience. As a youth, Jesus remained subject to his parents, even though they were imperfect. (Luke 2:51, 52; Ephesians 6:1) Christ’s subjects loyally endeavor to imitate him by “showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection” and by being “tenderly compassionate.” They strive to be like Christ, “humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling.”—1 Peter 3:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 11:1.
11. To which laws do Christ’s subjects submit themselves?
11 Just as prospective citizens of a country abide by the laws of their new land, Christ’s subjects submit themselves to “the law of the Christ” by harmonizing their lives with all that Jesus taught and commanded. (Galatians 6:2) In particular, they loyally live by “the kingly law” of love. (James 2:8) What do these laws involve?
12, 13. How do we loyally submit to “the law of the Christ”?
12 Christ’s subjects are not free of imperfections and failings. (Romans 3:23) Hence, they need to keep cultivating “unhypocritical brotherly affection” so as to “love one another intensely from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22) “If anyone has a cause for complaint against another,” Christians loyally apply the law of the Christ by “putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.” Obeying this law helps them to keep overlooking imperfections and to find reasons to love one another. Do you not appreciate being with those who in loyal submission to our loving King clothe themselves with love, the “perfect bond of union”?—Colossians 3:13, 14.
13 Furthermore, Jesus explained that the love he exemplified went beyond the love people commonly show for one another. (John 13:34, 35) If we love only those who love us, we would not be doing any “extraordinary thing.” In that case our love would be incomplete and defective. Jesus urged us to imitate his Father’s love by having principled love even for enemies who hate and persecute us. (Matthew 5:46-48) This love also moves subjects of the Kingdom to persevere loyally in their main work. What is that?
Loyalty Put to the Test
14. Why is the preaching work so important?
14 Subjects of God’s Kingdom now have the crucial work of “bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 28:23) Doing so is vital because the Messianic Kingdom will vindicate Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) When we preach the good news, hearers have the opportunity to become subjects of God’s Kingdom. Further, the way people react to that message provides a touchstone, or standard, against which Christ the King can judge mankind. (Matthew 24:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) Hence, a prime way in which we show our loyalty to Christ is by obeying his command to tell others about the Kingdom.—Matthew 28:18-20.
15. Why does the loyalty of Christians come under test?
15 Of course, Satan resists the preaching work in any way he can, and human rulers do not acknowledge Christ’s God-given authority. (Psalm 2:1-3, 6-8) Hence, Jesus warned his disciples: “A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) Christ’s followers, therefore, find themselves in a spiritual warfare that puts their loyalty to the test.—2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-12.
16. How do subjects of the Kingdom pay back “God’s things to God”?
16 Nevertheless, subjects of God’s Kingdom remain loyal to their invisible King without disrespecting human authorities. (Titus 3:1, 2) Jesus stated: “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Mark 12:13-17) Christ’s subjects, therefore, obey governmental laws that do not conflict with God’s laws. (Romans 13:1-7) However, when the Jewish high court went against God’s laws by ordering Jesus’ disciples to stop preaching, they firmly but respectfully said that they had to “obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 1:8; 5:27-32.
17. Why can we face tests of loyalty with courage?
17 Naturally, it takes much courage for Christ’s subjects to remain loyal to their King in the face of persecution. Nevertheless, Jesus said: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:11, 12) The early followers of Christ experienced the truthfulness of those words. Even when they were flogged for continuing to preach about the Kingdom, they rejoiced “because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name. And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:41, 42) You are to be commended, as you show the same spirit of loyalty when you endure hardships, sickness, bereavement, or opposition.—Romans 5:3-5; Hebrews 13:6.
18. What do Jesus’ words to Pontius Pilate indicate?
18 When he was still King-Designate, Jesus explained to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) Subjects of the heavenly Kingdom, therefore, neither take up arms against anyone nor take sides in any human conflict. In loyalty to the “Prince of Peace,” they remain completely neutral in the partisan affairs of the world.—Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6, 7.
Everlasting Rewards for Loyal Subjects
19. Why can Christ’s subjects look to the future with confidence?
19 Loyal subjects of Christ, the “King of kings,” face the future with confidence. They eagerly anticipate his imminent demonstration of supernatural kingly power. (Revelation 19:11–20:3; Matthew 24:30) The remnant of loyal, spirit-anointed “sons of the kingdom” look forward to their priceless inheritance as kings with Christ in heaven. (Matthew 13:38; Luke 12:32) Christ’s loyal “other sheep” keenly await their King’s approving declaration: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the [earthly Paradise realm of the] kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” (John 10:16; Matthew 25:34) Accordingly, may all subjects of the Kingdom be determined to continue loyally serving Christ the King.
See Reasoning From the Scriptures, “Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that God’s Kingdom was established in 1914?” pages 95-7, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Can You Explain?
• Why does Christ deserve our loyalty?
• How do Christ’s subjects show their loyalty to him?
• Why do we want to be loyal to Christ the King?
[Box on page 31]
MORE OF CHRIST’S OUTSTANDING QUALITIES
[Picture on page 29]
By showing love for one another, we loyally submit to “the law of the Christ”
[Pictures on page 31]
Do Christ’s qualities move you to serve him loyally?