This past spring, with our scones and cucumber sandwiches in hand, my two-year-old daughter and I sat down to watch Will and Kate’s royal wedding. It was the stuff of fairy tales – a young commoner marries her Prince Charming.
As I watched the spectacle, I felt a little giddy. These were royals, after all! Sure, I got caught up in the pageantry of it all, just like many other Canadians gazing at their future king and queen.
I didn’t think much more about it until William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, paid an official visit to Canada this past July. Again, I was smitten. I was proud of the welcome our country extended to the couple. I gawked at Catherine’s wardrobe, her shoes, her perfectly placed hats.
What made me so star-struck? I think it was mostly due to Will and Kate’s celebrity status. Here were superstars of the world stage, with the good looks, money, and fame to go along with it.
Then I read something in Maclean’s that startled me out of my reverie. One journalist mused whether William actually views Canadians as his future subjects. Subjects? I don’t usually think of myself as subject – subordinate – to a British king or queen. But subjects we are.
The article made me wonder: do Canadians hold William and Catherine in such high regard because our country actually depends on them to a certain degree?
In Canada, the monarchy is largely symbolic. However, it also functions as a guarantor of stable governance and as a safeguard against the abuse of power. The queen or king has authority to call elections and appoint governments. Overall, Canada’s monarch embodies this country’s democratic ideals and represents “the power of the people above government and political parties.”
The security of sovereigns
So, yes, we depend – both literally and figuratively – on our sovereigns to keep us safe, to keep us on the right track, to hold to our long-standing ideals of democracy. Behind all the glitz and glamour, there’s actually something tangible about the duke and duchess’s contribution to Canadian life.
Then I began to wonder how I view Jesus, my ultimate King. Am I interested in him because he’s my spiritual sovereign – the one on whom I depend, whose rule will keep me on the right track? Or is Jesus merely a celebrity figure in my life – someone to flaunt on a bumper sticker, to wear as a piece of jewelry, someone who will provide me with charming quotations? I think many of us see Jesus more as rock star than king.
Some complain about how difficult it is to be a Christian in postmodern culture. But let’s be honest, it’s not very hard at all. We have access to all sorts of Christian resources. We’re safe from persecution. We rarely get mocked by our neighbours for our beliefs. And most of us are surrounded by a solid group of Christian friends and family members who encourage and support us.
When our friendship circles are filled with Christians, the Jesus-language we speak is cool and hip. Yeah, I do my daily devotions. What’s your favourite worship song? Jesus loves you, man!
Author Stuart Murray laments in his book The Naked Anabaptist, “the Christendom era has bequeathed a form of Christianity that has marginalized, spiritualized, domesticated, and emasculated Jesus. The teaching of Jesus is watered down, privatized, and explained away. Jesus is worshipped as a … romanticized personal savior.”
Following Jesus is supposed to be a bit uncomfortable – hard, even. That’s the consequence of having someone rule over you, of being subject to them. We are subject to Christ’s teachings when we hear millions of people cry out from starvation in water-parched Africa, or when we hear thousands of North Americans cry out in anguish from water-logged prairies. We are obligated to follow Jesus’ challenging words when a relationship in our life needs to be mended, or when our entertainment choices need to be carefully tended. Christ’s rule – his kingdom – ought to impact all our decisions, not just how we spend our Sunday mornings.
So, today I’m pondering my allegiance to royalty – as a Canadian citizen and as a Christian.