By Collin Ross
While it doesn’t get the same amount of attention and spectacle as Easter or Pentecost, I have always cherished the annual celebration of Christ’s ascension. For thousands of years, on the fiftieth day after Easter, Christians have celebrated the wondrous truth that Jesus has ascended to the throne of creation and is presently reigning as King.
It is the “presently” part that has always captivated me. What is Jesus doing right this moment? He is ruling the universe at God’s right hand, directing it according to His redemptive purposes (Hebrews 1:3; Romans 8:28). When Jesus told His disciples, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” He meant it (Matthew 28:18)! But what does it mean that Jesus is King? How does this truth interact with our daily lives?
For me, the ascension allows a big sigh of relief. If Jesus is ascended, I can give up my own struggle to be God and King. Have you ever been in a role that was all wrong for you? In graduate school, I worked at a fast food restaurant for a time. If you have not worked a stint in a drive-thru, know that it is pure chaos. Within minutes, I recognized that I did not have the temperament nor capacity to handle the whirlwind of multitasking that was required. I was in the wrong role.
When we’re struggling to be God and King, we’re pursuing the wrong role. The evidence is in the anxiety and disquiet that we feel. This struggle comes out in a number of different ways, one example being our desire to be perfect. Some of us can’t handle failure to any degree. Even though our friends tell us that we are only human, our heart is not satisfied. Why? We want to be more than human, and the fact that we are not is killing us.
Another way our straining shows itself is in our obsession with control. We want everything to go a certain way in accordance with our agenda. When we can’t handle even the slightest deviation from that agenda, we are striving for an authority that is not ours to bear.
So what’s the solution? The remedy to our pursuit of godhood is to embrace the ascension of Jesus. Christ is God and King, which means we are not and we do not have to be. When we embrace Christ’s ascension, we can heave that sigh of relief and refocus our God-given role as witnesses to the One ascended King (Acts 1:8). We are called to bear witness, and part of our witness must be letting go of our desire to be God and learning to live as Christ’s beloved followers instead.