Over the past, I don’t know, “season” (how’s that for a word that describes an ambiguous amount of time?), a common theme has popped up, both in people I have directly interacted with and observed from afar. It typically centers around conflict between people who say they are Christians. From problems in marriages to the division over the Emergent Church, a theme has surfaced. It has to do with the lordship of Jesus. Who is on the throne of your life, and what impact is that having?
First, let’s make the case for Jesus being our Lord and savior. Is it me, or do you also feel like both of those things have become more concepts than reality in the body of Christ, and perhaps personally? I mean, I know I’m saved by grace through faith. I know I’m saved now, but the reality of that doesn’t come to fruition until I die and am resurrected. I am now saved and in right standing before God right now because of what Christ has done. I get that. There is a present reality to that which I will get into in a future post. But the reality of Jesus as savior seems like a “then” kind of thing in a way also. It’s not one or the other, it’s both now and then. But my point is, most Christians will agree and happily say, “Jesus is my savior” because there isn’t to much of a practical reality to it right now. My soul is saved. It’s on a spiritual level. But this is where the “lord” dynamic comes into play.
The concepts of Jesus being both lord and savior are inseparable. If He is not one, He is not the other. Look at Romans 10:9-10.
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
We confess with our mouths the reality that Jesus is our lord. He is our boss. He is our master. He is in complete charge over every aspect of our lives. Our wills, our desires, our thoughts, our actions are subject to what He says, what He wants. His lordship over our lives is the external expression of the inward believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. The verbal confession of Jesus as Lord, along with the believing in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, are the prerequisites for our salvation. If He is not our Lord, we are not saved (see 1 John 2:3-5). If we don’t believe God raised Him from the dead (and consequently that He is alive today) we are not saved (see 1 Corinthians 15).
Add to this Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 which both say “God and Savior Jesus Christ”, along with 2 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 2:20, 2 Peter 3:2, and 2 Peter 3:18 which all say “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. His Lordship and his savior-ship (yeah, I know) are inseparably linked. Most Christians function as if Jesus is their savior. But how many function practically and deliberately in such a way that He is their Lord?
Let’s take marriage. What does the lordship of Jesus look like there? Rather, what does a lack of lordship look like there? When one or both sides of the marriage are fighting for their way, there is no lordship of Jesus. When one or both sides of the marriage are functioning with a sense of entitlement (an “I deserve” attitude), there is no lordship of Jesus. When one or both sides of the marriage aren’t seeking the good of the other, there is no lordship of Jesus. I know it’s cliche, but one has to ask, “What would Jesus do?” If someone claims to be a Christian, one of Christ’s, and they aren’t happy in their marriage, the first thing they need to do is ask themselves, “Jesus, what do you want me to do? How would you treat my spouse in this situation? Not my will, but Yours be done.” I understand that we can want to do that but the other party doesn’t want to, which causes more stress. I get that there are variables to this. But in a marriage where both sides say they are believers, both sides need to do this. It’s the lordship of Jesus in my life, in our lives, that will restore things. But it has to start somewhere.
Turn it around. What if Jesus treated you the way you are treating your spouse? How likely would you be to want to restore relationship? What if Jesus put the expectations on you to make everything the way He wants it? Chew on that for a while. The word uses marriage as a picture of our relationship with God over and over again. Look at what a patient and loving “spouse” the Lord is to us. God has every right to bail on us, but He doesn’t. Hm. I kinda hope I’m stepping on some toes here to get some people thinking at least.
I also mentioned, as another example of another arena where a lack of lordship of Jesus has impacted believers is in something like the Emergent Church movement. (Yes, I’m well aware of all the streams and the Emergent vs. the Emerging, just roll with me here.) I’m talking about the movement that has taken the credibility of God’s word out of the equation. Those who have reduced God’s word to truths to glean from instead of it being the absolute authority in our lives. When you take that away, you have just removed and in fact called into question the lordship and savior-ship of Jesus. You now no longer really have a need to be saved from anything, and consequently Jesus becomes just an example to follow if you want to, and not a master to which one must submit. In a post-modern worldview where subjectivity is king, lordship really has no place. (There’s a pun in that.)
I’m convinced that, where we see serious conflict and struggle, where we see the flesh in action, it’s an issue of lordship. When we start to think that we are entitled, others need to adapt to me, the wrong person is on the throne. Who determines how you think? Who determines what is appropriate for you to say and what isn’t? Who decides how you behave at work, in your home, even in your thought life? Does the lordship of Jesus Christ permeate your life, or is it just a concept, a part of your Christian package that feels just as ethereal as Jesus being your savior might feel? Has the lordship been lost in the church in America? How about in your life? Did you ever have it?
If you confess with your mouth…