Growing up in the evangelical world of 80’s and 90’s I was no stranger to the concept of Jesus as Lord. I remember sermons and revivals that pleaded with people to come forward and accept Christ as our “personal Lord and Savior”. A popular phrase during my youth was the Christianity wasn’t about religion but a relationship. At youth group we were often asked if we had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The problem is that the focus of the personal lordship of Christ it is easy to forget that his lordship is not dependant on a person “accepting” it or not. Christ is Lord of all and that claim rests not on our consent but in the very nature of who Christ is. Therefore, how can understanding Christ as the Lord of the entire universe impact our faith and even change the way we interact with others who are not Christians?
Jesus’ lordship expands over the entire created order. John 1:3 states “All things were created through Him [Jesus] and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.” Jesus is Lord over creation because he was an integral part of the creation process along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is Lord over the entire universe and now “sustains all things by His powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3) Therefore, as Christians we are to work to see the fulfillment of the Christ’s lordship over the created order. Since we find ourselves in the already and not yet of the Kingdom of God we are invited to join the work of the Kingdom.
Jesus lordship is also seen in the social realm of creation. The Incarnation demonstrates that God came not to destroy human society but to bring it to fulfillment. He did seek to overthrow the government of Rome but to bring all governmental officials and rulers to their fullness and proper place under his lordship. Christ did not destroy the Jewish cultural norms instead he worked through them and pushed them to a more complete expression of God’s will. This means that all cultures stand in need not to be made into one dominate cultural norm but to be pushed by Christians to express their God-created fullness. Therefore the church needs to be involved in social action. We must stand against unjust and unholy governmental practices wherever we find them and to support those governmental officials and programs that express the justice and lordship of Christ. The church should not work to abolish culture and keep it out of the church but instead like Jesus immerse itself in culture so that it can bring it to fulfillment from the inside. For more about Christ and culture check out one of my earlier post.
The lordship of Jesus extends to the church. Colossians 1:18 affirms that Christ is the “head of the body, the church.” Since we understand that all denominations are part of the same body of which Christ is Lord it brings us to more ecumenical relationships. We do not believe that our bishops or the leaders of other denominations are the ultimate head of the church. We recognize that it is Christ who reigns sovereign over the institution of the church. Jesus is the one who brings justification and atonement for sin that allows humanity to enter into the church. He was the firstborn of the dead in who we place our hope for our own future resurrection. The church exists to worship God: Father, Spirit, and Son and to proclaim the forgiveness and grace found in Christ and experienced communally in the life of the church.
Jesus is also the Lord of the individual Christian. When a person experiences the justifying grace of God and becomes a Christian they are also accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. No longer are they to live for their will or their desires but they are to subject all things in their life to the Lordship of Jesus. The life of the Christian is subjected to Christ. This means that as we continue in the process of sanctification we allow more of ourselves to be governed by Jesus. While the personal lordship of Jesus in the life of a believer is important it is essential to celebrate and proclaim the entire lordship of Jesus Christ.
So how does a more complete understanding of the lordship of Christ impact our interactions with others, especially those who are not Christians? I believe that if we truly understand the universal lordship of Christ we don’t have to act like our actions and decisions determine the authenticity of Christ’s position. In other words I dont have to bitterly argue with my neighbor about politics believing that if we vote in the wrong candidate then the Kingdom of God has been put into jeopardy. (see more about Christ and voting here) If we understand Christ as Lord over all we don’t have to fight about scientific theories that we might see as undermining that lordship because we can trust that a sovereign lord will be not be disproven by his own creation. Actually, we might be able to see those scientific discoveries not as threats but as wonderful glimses into the mind and design of a creative God. The lordship of Christ also changes how we talk and treat others of different faiths. I am able to rest assured in the validity of my beliefs and I don’t have to disprove others to make my own faith valid. I am free to let Christ continue to guide and protect his church and I am able to look for opportunities of discussion and interaction that might help others see the wonderful hope that is found in Christ. In other words, since Christ is Lord I don’t have to be. I don’t have to worry about the Kingdom and if it will continue. Instead, I can find the easy yoke of my Master as I continue to be a faithful steward of what he has entrusted to me.