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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Criminal Kingdom

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

‘How do we measure the gravity of sin and the incomparable vastness of God’s love for us? By looking at the magnitude of what God has done for us in Jesus, who became like a common criminal for our sake and in our place.’- Fleming Rutledge

This has not been a great year for my brand of renewed evangelicalism. Scandalous, if not criminal charges, shroud fathers of holy fire like Mike Pilavachi of UK’s Soul Survivor, Hillsong’s Brian Houston, and most recently Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer and arguably one of the most influential churchmen in KC.

I know these guys a bit, have bumped into their weaknesses, and wonder like you if their alleged wicked acts are real. I know like you that valid witnesses of wrongdoing exist; discerning the truth from enemies of the Church who use anyone’s suffering to ignite their own is tough. In the din of virtual kangaroo courts in which imbeciles play jury and judge on behalf of men who deserve respect even if proven guilty, I grieve. And pray, awaiting justice for all.

Today is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This last Sunday of the formal Church calendar draws its grandeur from the Cross—King Jesus who became like a common criminal to gain us. Today, sovereign majesty emerges from the mockery that surrounded Jesus: stripped, slapped, and spit on to bear our criminality. ‘He saved others, but He can’t save Himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let Him come down from the cross and we will believe Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him!’ (Matt. 27:41-43).

God did rescue Him. And today the criminal King says to us criminals: ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ (Lk. 23:43). Talk about Father’s favor in exchange for all our sins! In His radical goodwill toward us, we are free to own our felonies.

Think about the four main virtues. Wisdom—living in the truth of things, including the reality of our own worst inclinations; then justice, giving others what they deserve, which means refusing to wound others with our jagged edges; flame on fortitude, strength in weakness over the long haul to walk steady and circumspect over terrain stained by the lure of familiar adulteries; finally, temperance, the ordering of our courts in which the different parts of our humanity integrate, granting us chaste fidelity to our God and fellows.

I am all in, King of my disordered heart! My prayer? ‘Lord Jesus, train your son in the cardinal four so I can master my own corner of the universe. I won’t forget crimes You cancelled and the prison I deserve save for Your mercy, which gives me grace to grow in virtue.’

Church, if our colleagues—good fathers all—sinned against those they served (thus committing grave injustices), then let us pray for God to serve justice. We pray: ‘King of the Universe, grant each father humility to face concrete abuses of power.’

Only then can healing begin for sheep bitten by shepherds, for sheep scattered by rumors of abuse, and for fallen shepherds.

In the meantime, may we each live naked before the criminal God who was stripped and scorned to bear our shame. We deserve the scourging. Today grants us the glow and glare of His Kingship. Through the criminal King, may we enter afresh into His Kingdom: humbled, grateful, more vulnerable to friends of God than His foes.


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