There is a very powerful film called God is not Dead. Initially it is written as a book of a similar title. It tells the journey of an evangelical college student named Josh who enrols in a philosophy course. As someone who has studied philosophy, part of our studies is to debate the existence of God and how the universe came into existence. Josh’s college professor is an atheist therefore doesn’t believe in God, that God is a pre-scientific fiction. He removes the students right to an opinion or belief in God and asks them to sign a declaration that states God is dead. If not they will fail the course. Josh refuses to sign. Both Josh and his professor then ensue in different debates and during the film. The debates portray people’s different beliefs and faith through the different events of life. They feature different people from all walks of life - those with faith and those without. In the end it is proven that God is not dead, and the truth prevails. Faith wins and out, the light overcomes the darkness. Like Josh, in our lives and in our society today we often must take a stand for what we believe in.
Over the last few weeks there was that very prominent case of where a man was acquitted of an assault on a young woman. The woman an innocent party was suddenly the one put on trial as if she was in the wrong by simply the clothes she was wearing led to her attack. How often is it the case whereby justice is not done, the guilty go free and those who are innocent are wrongly accused, falsely accused or worse left with the mental trauma of guilt and shame which can have a detrimental effect on their lives which even may end to them taking of their own lives. Those in leadership or authority can fail to lead us in the truth and in justice. How often do we ourselves judge or condemn or falsely accuse another person in our community or in our parish or country for the way that they live, their race, colour or religion or by simply what they wear? Do we exercise our authority or power over others to influence our leadership which goes against our integrity and gospel values?
In our gospel last weekend, we had Jesus speaking about the Last Judgement and the judgement over life and death. Today we have an extract from the passion narrative in John’s gospel. Jesus himself is being judged as he stands before Pilate facing trial for claiming to be king of the Jews. Pilate is caught between the light and the darkness, between truth and falsehood. As a leader he must obey his King and ruler. Pilate was a powerful man with an army of soldiers behind him. Jesus was helpless with no power or weapon. Christ stands before him weak and vulnerable.
While this gospel may seem a bit out of place for the ending of the church’s year it points to the feast in which we celebrate today the Feast of Christ the King. In a weeks’ time we begin this great season of Advent. In this the season of Advent we await in blessed hope for the coming of our saviour Jesus Christ. Often when you think of Kings you think of royalty, power money and status, rulers, huge Kingdoms and an inheritance to the throne. But not this King. This King was born with no money, a poor child without even a place to lay his head. Instead Jesus was a leader and King who brought justice, truth, peace and was an advocate for the poor. Jesus’ Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was put on trial an innocent man put to death. But just like in the movie the truth came out and goodness triumphs over evil. Jesus rose from the dead so that we too may share the inheritance of God’s Kingdom.
Our King was nailed to the cross and put to death. His crown was no jewels or gold but a twist of thorns. Jesus associates himself with his subjects and says that he is to be found in each person and therefore highlights the importance of helping others regardless of race, nationality, colour or religion. On the other hand, those who have not been faithful will not enter the kingdom. Jesus is the supreme king no matter who the civil leaders might be, and he is to be loved, obeyed and honoured above all others because he alone can bring eternal life.
Christ himself is our hope. We must not put our trust in the political sovereignty but be witnesses to God’s eternal and universal sovereignty. When Jesus faced Pilate, he had no soldiers or army, But now, we are his soldiers and army in the world and the ones that must stand up for him, for justice, for truth and peace. Through the spiritual power of prayer, we can bring light into the darkness. All of us like Josh in the movie will be and do need to be challenged on what we believe in. There will be days that we will feel like we are the ones standing before Pilate to justify ourselves and this is becoming a reality ever more so in our country today as even now secondary schools are being forced to withdraw the teaching of religion. We must keep in the fore front of our minds that God is not dead despite what people say. We must let our lives be ruled by his spirit then in our own small way we will help to help to spread his kingdom of truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace.
"Lord Jesus Christ, you are our King and there is no other. Be the Lord and Master of our hearts, mind, body, and soul. May we always seek to do your will and to serve your kingdom above all else."
Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom