A STORY OF TWO KINGS by Chris Merkling
There once was a land very unlike any other land, the Kingdom of Kardia. What made the Kingdom of Kardia so unique was that it had one throne, but two kings, and each king would only reign one day at a time. One King was named Anthropos and the other, Kurios. The way it worked was this: Each morning as the subjects went to their shops, or their fields, or to the school, or to the market place, or wherever they might be going, they would pass by the palace gates, where Anthropos and Kurios would stand. As each person passed by, he or she would bow to the king that they wanted to rule for that day. At a certain hour, the number of bows were tallied and whichever king had the most would sit on the throne as king for that day.
Most days King Anthropos would be selected, which was odd because King Kurios was, by far, the wiser, stronger, more experienced and gracious of the two rulers. When King Kurios spoke, his words resonated with powerful truth. When Kurios governed, his rulings and edicts reflected the wisdom of the ages. His love for the people of Kardia was obvious to all, and, on the rare occasions He was selected to sit on the throne, He led them with the strong, steady hand of a loving Father/King. But as is true of most father, his decisions weren’t always popular, for they required the people to be responsible, accountable and disciplined. Therefore, Kurios typically received fewer bows than Anthropos and was not elected King very often.
By contrast, King Anthropos was unwise and undependable. He was typically indecisive and lazy and the Kingdom of Kardia had often suffered the ill consequences of his weak leadership. However, his lifestyle was lavish and self-indulgent. Indeed, he denied himself no pleasure, and he received many bows each morning because He encouraged the people of Kardia to live as he did. He urged them to live their lives in as full and satisfying a manner possible. He dissolved the military because people didn’t care for the great sacrifice and commitment that was required to keep an army strong and battle-ready. He discouraged excessive work and Instead he sponsored many diversions and pleasures for them. And, as it was an era of great plenty in Kardia, he encouraged the people to eat and drink to their contentment. Ironically, the people of Kardia spoke far and wide of the wisdom of King Kurios, yet each morning, it was foolish king Anthropos who received the lion’s share of their bows, and therefore spent most of the time on the throne.
One day the evil prince of a neighboring country, hoping to eventually invade and conquer Kardia, sent a spy to find out about the odd governing practices he’d heard of. He couldn’t fathom a kingdom that had two interchangeable kings! “Go see how firm the Kardian people are in their loyalties, and see which King is weaker that we may attack on a day that he sits on the throne.”
The spy first went to the palace where the king of the day was holding court, and, as on most days, Anthropos was on the throne. He appeared to be delivering an oratory to an assembled audience of Kardians, extolling and praising them for their thrift and ingenuity. “As a reward, I hereby proclaim today a national holiday! You are a deserving people, so rest, enjoy and amuse yourselves!” To which the people responded with a great cheer: “Long live King Anthropos!”
This was an unexpected opportunity that the spy welcomed. With such a relaxed and celebratory mood about the town, a stranger would not likely be suspected of ill motives. He could move about freely, perhaps even speak with some of the Kardians.
As he made his way from the palace towards the town, he spotted a rather largish man reclined under a tree beside the road. The man was quite intent on a pie that he was eating, and it appeared that he intended to eat it all. The spy put on a grin and called out in a pleasant tone “Halloa there!” The man looked up and, through a mouthful of pie, said “Why halloa, yourself! Where might you be heading?” The spy approached, speaking conversationally. “I’m on my way to visit my uncle in the town. Could you tell me if this road leads to the mill?” The pie-eating man replied jovially “Indeed it does, but if you expect to find your uncle there, I dare say you won’t! The King has declared today a holiday and no one is working!” The spy feigned surprise. “Holiday? Why, what King would proclaim a holiday in the middle of the week?”
“Why, King Anthropos, of course!” said the man, licking custard from his finger. “He’s the king today.”
“I understand there are two kings in Kardia”
“Yes, Anthropos and Kurios.”
“And I understand that you select each day which King will occupy the throne.”
“Aye, we do. Each morning we bow to the King we choose for the day.”
In as trivial a tone as the spy could manage, he said “I see. And which King do you prefer?”
“Oh, King Kurios, of course! He’s a wonderful King! Very strong, and very wise.”
“So, you bowed to Kurios this morning?”
“Well, actually, no,” he said. Seeing the puzzlement on the stranger’s face, the pie eater explained, “You see, it was rumored that if Anthropos was on the throne today, he’d command us to relax. And, as hard as I work, I thought that a day off from work would be nice, so this day I bowed to Anthropos. I’ll most likely bow to Kurios tomorrow.”
“I see” said the spy, intrigued. He bid good day to the man, who fell to his pie with renewed enthusiasm. A little further down the road, he came upon a women whose arms were full of things- decorative pots, flowers, ornamented plates and vases. She had obviously just come from the market. Offering to help carry her purchases to her front door, he struck up a conversation similar to the one he’d had with the pie eater, and in due time he posed the question: “Which king do you prefer?”
“No doubt about it. King Kurios. He’s a far more experienced King.”
Setting the parcels down on the front step, the spy continued “So, you bowed to Kurios this morning?”
“What, are you crazy? You must not be from around here! Everyone knows that when Anthropos is king on the twelfth day of the month, he allows us to buy on credit! We can get anything at the market we want, and no interest or payments for 18 months! Of course I bowed to Anthropos today.” Looking down at her purchases with a dissatisfied stare, the woman said, “I think I’ll make another trip. There’s a simply divine tea set I’ve been wanting.” Bustling off, she looked back over her shoulder and said “Don’t get me wrong! I’m almost sure I’ll bow to Kurios tomorrow.”
Throughout the day, the conversation was repeated. Nearly every Kardian the spy spoke with professed a preference for King Kurios, but had found one reason or another to bow to Anthropos that day. When pressed, most of them confessed to having bowed to Anthropos the day before as well. In fact, although everyone said to prefer Kurios, no one could actually remember the last time they bowed to Him and enthroned Him as King. Of course, these findings pleased the spy. As evening approached, he was anxious to bring a report back to his prince. He was preparing to make the journey home,when he spotted a lone figure atop a small hill overlooking the town. Drawing nearer, he saw that the figure was a man in common Kardian clothes, and he was seated next to a well, gazing out over the city. The spy, emboldened by his day of conversations, approached the man and, upon reaching the well, asked right out “Good evening, and what is your name, sir?”
Without turning his gaze from the city, the man said “I am Kurios.”
“King Kurios?” A wave of fear swept over the spy.
Did he know? If this King was as wise as everyone said, did he suspect the reason for the spy’s presence? He stammered “I... I’m not from around here, but I’m surprised to see a King to be out amongst his subjects.” At this, Kurios looked up at him knowingly, but spoke without hostility. “I am ever with my people. I never leave, or forsake them.” The spy then decided to try a bit of flattery. “Your people speak very highly of you.” The eyes of Kurios radiated with strength and wisdom, but his face bore the sadness of one who loves much yet whose love is not received. “These people honor me with their words. But their hearts are far from me. They will not see that the reign of Anthropos will be their downfall.” With that, He turned, his gaze again resting on the town. Seeing this as his opportunity, the spy backed away from the Sad King. “That is a bit of a bugger isn’t it? Well, good evening!” as he broke off in a dead run.
When he was a safe distance away, he slowed his pace, heaved a sigh of relief. He began to rehearse the glowing report he would bring to his prince. The prince who wanted to conquer the Kingdom of Kardia would be delighted, for could there be a more easily conquerable people than one who professed loyalty to a strong King, but who served a weak one?
It’s probably no surprise that, when translated into our tongue, Anthropos means “self” and Kurios means “Lord,” and the Kingdom of “Kardia” is none other than the Kingdom of the human heart. Many honor King Lord with their tongue, but in their hearts they elect to be ruled by king self. The choice of which king will reign on the throne is something the heart must decide each day, and every day. Each day and every day our Loving, Strong, Wise, Sovereign King Lord watches and waits for us to let Him take His rightful place on the throne of our lives. And if we intend to bow to him tomorrow, should we not bow to Him today?
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