In my town there lives a king who is building a castle.
We usually think of castles as ancient European fortresses but this one is newly being built from scratch in the hills of Malang, Indonesia. The rocks for the walls and ramparts are being brought in from a quarry out of a volcano about an hour away.
The castle is huge and imposing, frightening the townsfolk who live in the upscale neighborhood that surrounds it. In a curious sort of mood one day, I strolled onto the unique property and the architect in charge was kind enough to give me a tour. He walked me up the long staircase of the tallest tower, and from there I could see our entire city. Impressive.
That day I also met the king of the castle, the owner, and he was also proud enough of his work in progress that I got a second tour. The king told me he made his fortune in the energy industry, winning many lucrative contracts with the government, and is now enjoying the spoils of his labor. He’s half Indonesian and half Yemenese, and spent a large portion of his life in Germany. Maybe that’s where he got the inspiration to build himself a castle one day, right from the birthplace of the famed Castle Neuschwanstein, which was the model for Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
He’s not a real king of course, but as I walked around his property people sure treated him like one. After the tour, the kind king invited me to get into his Mercedes Benz and take a ride to his daughter’s private school, which was in preparation mode for an upcoming event. I did so and tried to get to know him better through the load blasts of his hi-fi stereo belting out Elvis Presley tunes.
Whether we were inside the castle walls or outside in his kingdom, I noticed something. When he walked into their space, people stopped what they were doing and listened to him. In his presence everyone—important or inconsequential—oriented themselves toward the king. On all of their facial expressions was written the question, what can I do for You, Your Highness? Not one person ignored him and went busily about their work.
It got me thinking about the kingdom of God. We are charged as the king’s servants to advance His kingdom, to bring his life and rule and joy and peace to the broken and dying and hopeless still shackled in enemy territory.
Yet even as we go about that noble purpose, it’s easy to forget all about the king. We don’t live in a kingless kingdom, to quote a phrase from my friend Steve Hawthorne, but we can sure act like it sometimes. We go about our Christian work, dutifully building the kingdom of God, yet forgetting there is a king in the center of the kingdom. The king of Malang gets more respect and attention from his workers than the King of the universe gets from me a lot of times.
Are we orienting ourselves toward the King? On our facial expressions is the question written, what can I do for You, Your Highness? Do we welcome the King’s interruptions into our lives?