The past few weeks my blog has touched on crowns, tiaras, and diadems. These are items of beauty as well as value that people of authority and royalty wear, especially in past centuries. In the context of treasure they are indeed items to be sought. That is why many illustrations in religious writings use the context of crowns to convey a message. For example, in Islamic teachings, a Crown of Pearls in the afterlife awaits those who have lived honorably for God in this life.
In the Old Testament the High Priests in the tabernacle wore crowns as they eventually would in the Temple. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah had rulers who for hundreds of years wore crowns. The New Testament writers spoke of a crown of glory, a crown of life, and a crown of righteousness. I often think of this image of a crown of righteousness. Paul in the book of Ephesians speaks of the armor of a Christian. He uses the image of a soldier. The sword represents the Word of God, the shield represents faith, while the belt represents truth. The soldier also wears a breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation.
This image of righteousness is intriguing to me. Christ offered himself as a sacrifice in order for us to have the opportunity to be presented as righteous before God. I can envision a Roman helmet, but I ask you this. What is your image of a crown of glory or a crown of righteousness? Is it a Halo? Is it a gold diadem? It may be hard to describe what a crown of righteousness would look, and that is fine. The point is righteousness. What does that look like? Again, different images come to the minds of different people. Let me share with you images that are on my heart.
When Jesus lived as an adult, the absolute ruler was Tiberius, Emperor of Rome. He had absolute power and lived a life of opulence and indulgence. The later years of his life he lived secluded on an island with a predilection to sex. It has been written that he preferred young males and after a period of time would discard them by having them thrown over a cliff. Sounds like a depraved, evil existence. Contrast that with Jesus who walked and lived among ordinary people often staying in their houses. He chose to use his power to give to others by teaching, sharing his food, and healing. Not to mention the greatest gift of all, a crown of righteousness given to each of us if we choose to accept it. The next time you wonder if it would be cool to be rich, famous or have royalty, remember that it is not unusual to ponder such thoughts. It is also not inherently wrong to be rich, just that it is often a trap and can be destructive spiritually as it was for Tiberius who had it all in this life. During this Christmas season of gift giving remember Christ’s gift for each of us, the gift of life, a crown of righteousness.