Celebrating an inspirational life of Christlike service

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Many years ago, before I was a Christian, at a time when I was chasing money and essentially living for myself, I would often say to my wife that I wanted what her mother had. Life hadn’t dealt her a great hand, yet she was by far the happiest person I knew.

She had a peace and joy that were painfully lacking in my own life. Where did they come from? And how could she be so kind and generous when she had so little herself? Only when I had my own encounter with Jesus Christ a number of years later did I come to realise that it was my mother-in-law’s deep-rooted Christian faith that set her apart from others.

I share this with you because I believe that a similar story is playing out before our eyes right now. All around the world, people have been left deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. You only have to look at the news to see the international outpouring of grief. And yet, I am sure that many who have been so deeply affected wouldn’t describe themselves as monarchists. Why, then, are so many people, who aren’t attached to her institution, filled with such a deep sense of loss at her passing? Is it just a case of people getting caught up in the emotion of it all? I don’t think so. Rather, I believe something far deeper is going on.

In Colossians 1:27, Paul writes to early Christian believers the powerful words, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ He is proclaiming that those who profess a deep faith in Christ – whatever their class, nationality, race or background – carry the very person of Christ within them, and in doing this, they reflect the love and hope found in Him.

It was only when I became a Christian in 2008 that I came to appreciate that it was the indwelling presence of Christ in my mother-in-law that had made me question the purpose behind my own existence. I believe a similar narrative is playing out in the case of Her Majesty The Queen – except this is on a global scale.

Our beloved Queen had a profoundly strong faith, and this deeply touched the lives of many, in ways seen and unseen, helping her to see everyone she met as being worthy of dignity and respect. Both consciously and unconsciously, people have been affected by God’s work of grace in the Queen’s reign, which spanned a colossal seventy years.

Her servant-leadership is one area where we have witnessed this. In a world where leadership has so often been corrupted by an obsession with power and the pursuit of self-interest, Her Late Majesty The Queen’s reign exhibited a different approach; one where leadership is lived out under the lordship of Christ. As the Queen said, ‘For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.’ She was serving someone greater than herself.

Since her coronation, which took place when she was the tender age of twenty-five, Elizabeth II sought to live in deep communion with God – a place where she found wisdom and guidance for each day. The result has been extraordinary. A life where excellence has been accomplished through hard work, selflessness, humility and integrity. Undoubtedly, the Queen had a clear sense of her calling in Christ and an understanding that she would need to live in dependency upon Him in order to finish well the job that she had been tasked with all those years ago. Such a faith-filled life is never in vain. Her Majesty The Queen might have been thought of as a simple figurehead by many, but the outpouring of emotion clearly demonstrates that she was so much more than this.

The Bible says that in the same way that the wind blows wherever it pleases, so it is with the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8). I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit has been quietly and gently working in the lives of many people throughout our Queen’s long reign by pointing people to a better world, a better way – the way of Christ, of ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’.

Humanly speaking, one can’t quantify the impact of all this; only God can. But one thing is for sure: the Queen’s death has left a gaping hole in the lives of many. Sometimes we need to experience the loss of someone in order to understand the deeper meaning behind their life. Pointing humanity to our need for the love of God was our beloved Queen’s life’s work. That is her legacy. I wonder what you and I will be remembered for?

  • Manoj Raithatha

    Raised a Hindu, Manoj has been a secondary school teacher, BAFTA award-winning TV writer and successful property entrepreneur.