Specifically in America since that is where I live I find the challenge of addressing what it means to believe that Jesus is Lord. I often come across the topic of what it means to believe and how what we are believing in and who we are believing is important . What I find challenging amongst Americans is in addressing what Lordship is and in what ways does that impact how we define our belief. What is everyone’s thoughts on how to engage with people on the understanding of what Lordship is, especially amongst those that have not encountered it first hand? Also, how does this understanding impact how we define belief?
@Kyle_Jones What does Lordship mean to you? In what way do you feel Americans do not understand this concept?
Within the context of what it means that Jesus is Lord I believe it is necessary to start by understanding the historical aspects of what this entailed. At the time there was a clear distinction of the lordship between say Nero and Christ. When you professed lordship you were submitting to their authority as king and the law in which they governed their kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is that of serventhood, humility, love, etc. The law is written on our hearts and our role as people of his kingdom is not the same as that of the world. I reckon the difficulty with my country is that of freedom. It is a great thing and I am thankful for it. Yet with this freedom of religion it takes away the distinction of one or the other. The tendency at this point can be to take upon ourselves fill in responsibility of lordship with worldly methods of authority, sometimes unknowingly. It is completely acceptable to believe in Jesus and rely on are own way of governing our lives. When we say Jesus is Lord we are not just saying he is God so we get to heaven but submitting to his kingdom and authority to govern every aspect of our lives “on earth as it is in heaven”. Allowing the Spirit to convict, change, and mold us as we surrender to him in complete obedience. In places where you are persecuted for denying the lordship of Allah as it is in areas of the Middle East this idea of lordship often takes on a more intensified and impactful meaning. What are your thoughts?
@Kyle_Jones Thank you for clarifying the historical context of your reference to Lordship. I have heard the word used in several contexts and was not sure what exactly you meant by it.
I think I would be careful about interpreting the requirement for sacrifice as a Christian in the Middle East as necessarily implying that Christ being hailed as Lord is more common. Paul said in I Cor 13 that “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”. And King David in Psalms 51 - “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
It is simply impossible for us to see the hearts of other people - sometimes we do not even know our own well. So, personally, I am troubled sometimes when people make sweeping statements about the sincerity of a nations faith. I think it is always a matter of the heart - of love - of repentance - and that is something that, while it manifest itself in sacrifice, is invisible except to God.
Regarding the nature of Lordship in our lives as you have described it, I think Romans 8 is a beautiful passage that exemplifies exactly what you are talking about.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Jesus also said in John 15 - I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I agree that to love God is to obey Him by the power of the Spirit through connection to the True Vine - Jesus Christ and that many people are not connected to the vine.
Personally, while I certainly think persecution weeds out people who only go to Church for business connections or for social purposes, I think that the way of Jesus is narrow in all contexts. And we must encourage one another each day to remain rooted in the vine as the day of our Lord’s return draws near.
On another note, I agree that Lordship when considered in historical context - Jesus versus Caesar - is much more parallel to Jesus vs religious tyrant than say - the situation in America.
Similarly, I think Jesus vs Jewish authorities is probably more similar to Jesus vs imams than the situation in America.
@Kyle_Jones What would you compare the situation in America to Biblically?
Thanks for your insight, much appreciated. I would like to clarify some confusion on a couple things and forgive me for not being more clear in my articulation. I am not so much questioning the sincerity of a nation nor am I trying to imply that persecution gives a person better understanding of lordship. It is that in certain areas (the Middle East is a example) lordship and its meaning becomes more clear cut and distinctive because Jesus is Lord is in contrast with Allah is Lord.
@Kyle_Jones Yes, that makes sense. I appreciate the clarification.
Normally I hear the term Lordship in reference to ‘Lordship Salvation’ - which is more a way of evaluating whether or not someone has made Christ Lord of their life.
That is what I guess I am getting at. Since historically in biblical times lordship was more distinctive than what we have here in America what does it mean for us? And does this change the method in which we engage with our culture?
I think it gives us a tremendous amount of freedom. There are external tyrants like in the Middle East / Rome and there are internal tyrants (drunkenness, greed, etc).
Without a clear external tyrant, we are free to go after the internal tyrants - the sin that enslaves people and to proclaim Christ. And we should certainly use that freedom.
I think the unique danger of being free from an external tyrant is that the internal tyrants often seem less real. Greed, impurity and envy feel less dangerous than bullets. Comfort is seductive and tempts you to forget God. Suffering tempts you to curse God. Both tempt you to unbelief.
Whereas 1st Century Christians faced Caesar’s claim to lordship and Middle Easter Christians the claims of other gods, perhaps American Christians face comforts claim to lordship?
I think the Epistles to the Corinthians provide a lot of guidance that is helpful in the modern American context.
I think Americans (land of the free) have lost the sense of being servants. Everyone has this vision of being served (being lords) and totally free, yet only God is truly free, and those whom He has made free from sin.
Dylan sings the song, 'Gotta Serve Somebody" and I think he nails it. I was a willing slave to sin until the Son set me free! (Ro 6:20)
How do we connect with Americans who think they are as free as God?
I’m listening for good answers
Hi @Kyle_Jones, thank you for this very interesting question! I’m curious to learn from you and others on this topic. I think you’re tapping into a very powerful aspect of the resistance to the gospel in America. As @kardiaccny mentioned, we are the ‘land of the free’ - but I sense that we have lost the idea of being ‘free to’ do what we ought and instead desire ‘freedom from’ any restraint. This is not so much freedom as autonomy. I want to be free to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, with whom I want to do it, as long as they consent, as often as I want to do it, and so on. To over-generalize, freedom FROM all constraints is true freedom in the American imagination.
In terms of a global, evangelical perspective on the shape of faithfulness to Jesus in our time, I cannot think of a better expression of this than the Cape Town Commitment, released by the Lausanne Movement:
I agree, I tend to see the direction of us changing as a culture from the conversation of who has the right to authority and trended into denying any need for authority in general. Thus taking any sort of accountability out of the equation. Do you think this is a result of pluralism? Or do you you think pluralism is the result of a culture of preference?
Hi Kyle, these are great questions! They also require careful, sustained answers. I would particularly recommend to you two books by Os Guinness: Renaissance and Impossible People. A master sociologist, Os lays out both the hope and power of the gospel (in Renaissance) and the challenges of our time with the needed response (in Impossible People).
Thanks Carson. I just watched a lecture Os did on Impossible people and will definitely take your advice on reading those books. Look forward to getting a more thorough look into the topic.
Hi Kyle, that’s great news! Please do share with us what you learn and any follow-on questions. That keeps Connect a vibrant, interesting place to be! I also find that learning in community is a much deeper, richer learning than private study by itself. When you try to explain what you’ve learned to others, there’s another layer of learning that takes place that really helps us integrate and solidify what we’ve studied.
Kyle, I agree that Americans are particularly challenged in the idea of Lordship. Our culture is ingrained with the ideas of independence, equality, and freedom. None of these are necessarily bad, as a matter of fact they are good, but it’s in the process of living for these ideals that we go terribly wrong.
We may not necessarily be challenged by the idea of a hierarchy, pretty much everybody answers to somebody. But still we resist the idea of it. We glorify the rebels who buck the system, who rail at “the man.” The very history of America is one of cutting ties with the king.
We are called to dependence on God (we all are whether we like it or know it or not). Yet we choose self-centered independence. It’s the all-American way to live.
Most applaud the ideals of equality set forth in the nation’s supreme documents, yet instead of seeing this as a call to stand against oppression, we use it to justify our rebellion against authority and hierarchy. “I’m as good as any man.”
Freedom is our justification for anything we want to do. We equate freedom with license, rather than freedom with responsibility. When we talk about freedom having a price, we get that right, but typically we mean the cost others have paid for our lifestyle. Americans generally have no idea of their enslavement to sin and the price of the freedom from that bondage.
People may look at Jesus and say, “yeah, he was a great guy, an awesome teacher, and said some really wise things.” The clue that they have no idea what they are talking about. Because the things Jesus said turned the institutions of man upside down and inside out. The least shall be the greatest and the greatest shall be the least. That’s contrary to the notion of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.
I think the knowledge and understanding of Lordship comes with the process of sanctification. The idea and the practice of servanthood grows in us as we grow in Christ. I know as a Christian the more I got knocked around by life, the more I came to a place where even in the muck I could see that God was on his throne and in control, even when I was not. Essentially the idea of sovereignty, majesty, kingship, lordship for me came with faith and trust over time and experience. First you see what Jesus is doing for you, then you see what Jesus is calling you to do.
When I think of Christ as Lord and the threats to this in my own personal context, I’m reminded of the story of the rich young ruler and the discourse that followed between Christ and his disciples (Matthew 19:16-30)
There are things that challenge the throne in my heart and I sometimes set over the Lord. I also believe that this is evidenced outwardly, and the fruit thereof looks quite different from a life that is centered on the Lord.
I too have a song that I recently heard and cannot stop thinking about, by Tenth Avenue North, I Confess
I confess, I admit, I look for life outside of You
I repent, I’m coming back to the only joy that’s true
I don’t want to look in a stranger’s eyes
When I come into this place
Let me grow familiar with the lines
The lines upon Your face
For me personally, Lordship does not come from the perspective of Lord, but that Christ has called his disciples friends. I don’t want to mistake the power and glory of our Lord so as to put him in the light of some casual “Buddy Jesus.” But without understanding the personal relationship God desires with me along with his majesty, how can there be the kind of Lordship that he seeks?
I think there is something to be appreciated in the crucible of persecution. The early church flourished because of persecution, Jesus promises it to his followers, the underground church moment in China is exploding now because of it. I’m not saying we all need to be under the precise same set of circumstances to reach the same appreciation of our Lord, but there is biblical evidence that persecution is an expectation and that the opposite (a life of luxury and liberty) pulls the heart away from God.