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Christians Owe Fealty to No Earthly Ruler and No Earthly Leader Offers Us Salvation

As most traditionalist Christian denominations this week celebrate "Christ the King Sunday," it seems a perfect time to remind ourselves that we owe fealty to no earthly ruler and that no earthly leader offers us salvation.

(The United States gets it right, by the way: Here, our leaders are elected to serve us, not rule us, while we try to lead lives that prepare us for salvific grace rather than depending on other humans to step in and set our lives aright.)

The Revised Common Lectionary readings for this Sunday provide necessary perspective. Jeremiah, for example, points to the only one who can save us: "The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'"

The president is not our righteousness. The queen of England is not our righteousness. Only the Lord is our righteousness and salvation.

Likewise did Zechariah (John the Baptist's father) say that "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old ... that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days."

Again, the focus is on The One sent by the Lord on high; all the rest, if they claim special powers, are false prophets or illegitimate rulers.