four person looking at the city

The Witness of Friends

[I preached this sermon in 2001. It is very personal and special to me. I hope you find it to be special also.]

Today is Christ the King Sunday. It is the last Sunday in the Christian year. Next week we begin again with Advent, the anticipation of the coming Christ. But this Sunday calls us to reflect upon what it means to have Jesus as the King and Lord of our lives.

Each of our readings today speaks to the supremacy of Jesus. Jeremiah says:

I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Paul in his letter to the Colossians, describes him as,

He is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or in heaven, by making peace through his blood on the cross.

Jeremiah and Paul make clear that Jesus reigns as a king over everything. That his Kingdom touches all aspects of life. That his power is supreme. And that through his power he reconciles everyone with God.

A king reigns supreme. He holds all aspects of the lives of those he reigns in his hands. The question then is what does it mean to have Jesus reign in our lives? How will he reign? Most of us here presumably have stood before the church and professed faith at confirmation or some other time in our lives. With such an act will Jesus reign in our lives?

I want to tell you a story of two friends and their experience with the supremacy of Jesus that I hope will provide a little insight into the issue. While in their teens and as new high school graduates, these two young men, within a matter of weeks of each other, found their way to Jesus. Each expressed belief and with the ardor of new converts set out on their paths to do whatever they could to serve God and proclaim the Gospel.

For one, this was a dramatic step, he had never been much for church and so this step was a dramatic turning in his life. He was an incredibly gifted musician, so he decided that he would use his musical talents to serve Jesus. He went on to college and became a music director in a United Methodist church in South Carolina. He was living his dream; doing exactly what he wanted to do.

But what we want to do isn’t necessarily what Jesus wants us to do. He learned of a program based in Hawaii that trained youth to serve as missionaries and it just kept nagging him that he should be a part of it. He didn’t want to do it because he was comfortable doing what he was doing. He prayed and argued with God and defiantly stated that he would not go.

One day, the first young man decided at the last minute to go to a conference in another city. He knew no one there, and no one knew him. As a late arrival, he did not get onto the registration list. He slid into his chair and listened to the first speaker, a minister that was on occasion known to prophesy. The sermon was rather boring and he was beginning to wonder why he came. At the end of the sermon, the speaker said that he had a message for a few individuals in the audience. He then shouted out something like, “Stephen God says you are supposed to go to Hawaii so stop hesitating and go.” It took a few moments for it to sink in, but then he realized that the message was for him. You see, the man’s last name is Stephens. There was no way his rational mind could make sense of it. He was at a crossroads. He could accept that at that moment Jesus was declaring his supremacy and surrender to his power, or he could follow his own rational thoughts and plans. He chose surrender and to this day his life has never been the same.

He returned to his church, resigned his position, and went to Hawaii. After several years training youth, he was led to Bosnia where he served for many years as a missionary to Muslim youth and has trained converts to serve as missionaries to other nations. And what of the music he loved so much? He became a “musicianary” using it in his ministry, but did little more with it for years. Yet now he has released CDs and orchestrated the music for a Broadway level production that debuted in Singapore. His surrender to Christ his King took his faith, and his music, to levels he never had imagined.  It took him from service in South Carolina, to literally having a world-wide impact.

So what of the other friend? He has always attended church but also burned with the zeal of the new convert and went off to college. He remained true for his first year, but then wandered away and did not even attend church for years. After the birth of his first child, and anticipating a second, he and his wife decided that they wanted their children raised in the church even if the faith had lost meaning for them. So he returned to church and became the good church member: serving on committees, working at dinners, helping on mission projects, and even teaching Sunday School. Eventually he found that he could sing and began to sing in the choir. He passed a decade of church service in this way. All according to his plans and choices.

Our plans and choices, however, have a way of going awry, and so too did his. One evening his teen age son experienced severe chest pain. He was rushed to the hospital where after testing he was diagnosed as having an aneurysm on his esophagus. As an effort was made to locate a thoracic surgeon, the boy was scheduled for additional testing to pinpoint the defect for surgery. Standing beside the child’s bed in the ER, the father reached out his hand, placed it on the boy’s chest, and prayed for healing. Within a very short period, the boy looked up, said he just had a warm feeling in his chest, and the pain was gone. When he went for the additional test, they could no longer find the aneurysm.

The surgery was aborted, but the boy stayed the night with a bewildered father and mother at his side. The next morning the head of radiology for the hospital insisted that testing be repeated. It was and revealed nothing. He showed the studies to the father and told him that there was no ambiguity: there was a defect and then it was gone and they don’t disappear naturally. The doctor ascribed the healing to an act of God and discharged the boy.

That event certainly was enough to cause the father to believe that there was a whole lot more to Jesus than what he was doing at church, but the event faded in time and the day-to-day life. But Christ did not fade from his life. Jesus was now a very real presence that could not be ignored. Like his friend, he also was being nagged to proclaim the Gospel but resisted. Some people were suggesting he should be a minister; others a lay speaker. He was invited to a lay speaking course and made up as many excuses not to attend as he could conceive, but each reason went away. On the evening before the course was to start, when he received a call saying there had been a cancellation, he had had enough. He now also stood at the crossroads of surrender. He was tired of Jesus knocking and knocking and just insisting on being Lord of his life. He surrendered and became a lay speaker.

Today, this day, the second friend now preaches the Gospel. And he does so to you, for I am the second friend. The Gospel that I proclaim to you is that Jesus is real. He’s not just a figure in the Bible. He’s not someone that you can drag out on Sunday mornings. He’s not someone that you can find through your good works. He is the truth that cannot be understood through study. For Jesus being your life is a matter of heart, not head.

In the Gospel lesson today, Christ emphasizes that despite the miracles they had witnessed, the disciples still were caught up in their daily bread instead of the eternal power of God. As we also tend to think, they asked him what they should do to do God’s work. Jesus did not reply serve on committees, go on mission projects, teach Sunday School, or sing in the choir. He replied simply: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he sent.” Simply stated: trust your lives to Jesus. Surrender to the Kingdom and live now in his Kingdom.

Friends, as my friend Don and I both learned, Christ cannot be king in your life until you surrender that life to him. Not just part of your life, but all of it. When you do, the power of the King transforms you in ways you cannot imagine. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that Jesus was either the Son of God or a madman. You can only accept him as one or the other. If he was not the Son of God, then he was a lunatic because he repeatedly said he was the Son of God. If, however, you accept him as the Son of God, then you cannot ignore his supremacy in all things and, particularly, all aspects of your life. Partial supremacy does not work.

I stand before you as a witness that he is the Son of God and that he reigns supreme. He wants us to put aside our rational thoughts and plans and surrender all to him as king. For some of the more hard-headed, those of the “God bless my plan” school such as me, he has to push hard to get us there. But it does not have to be that difficult or dramatic, you need only confess that you know that you cannot live life without God, without the transformation that Jesus can work in your life, and surrender your life to him. So, let today not be Christ the King Sunday, but rather Christ my King Sunday. Let Jesus reign supreme as the King of your life.

[If you want to learn more about the incredible ministry of my friend Don, go to his blog, Dispatches From the Shadowlands, that is included in my links.]

© Thomas M. Trezise, 2010


  1. Tom Stephen on April 30, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Hey Tom,
    Great Sermon.

Leave a Comment

Welcome, I'm Tom

I'm Tom Trezise a retired lawyer and corporate executive with over twenty years of experience as a Methodist lay preacher. Raised in Appalachia, I proudly call myself a hillbilly at heart. I'm the executive director of The Everyday Kingdom, a non-profit devoted to fostering a community that helps people find and experience the peace, purpose, and joy available from living every day in Christ’s kingdom.

Search the Blog