For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6
Gen. 2:16-17; 22:1-14; John 14:15; Romans 10:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; James 2:14-26
Who is Jesus Christ to you and your Church? Who should He be? Perhaps Who He really is, LORD Almighty!
We live in treacherous Church times where many, perhaps most, pastors proclaim from the pulpit a feeble feel good message that entices people to just make them, well, feel good. This is the sort of preaching that proclaims Jesus as our buddy and offers a trivial personal relationship with Jesus for some kind of personal fulfillment, liberation and satisfaction. Such messages are usually cheap topics, not really drawn from Scripture or very watered down half truths; the crux of the message is missing or barely visible. This results in making the pew sitting Christian complacent and stagnate and those who are after the heart of Christ--who want to grow--feeling frustrated, discouraged, hungry and cheated because they were not fed. Those younger in the faith become vacant because they are not being discipled. Thus, the typical church member's spiritual formation becomes frail or absent by a misrepresented faith. To be an authentic effectual professing Christian one must confess Jesus as LORD! Then we respond by our gratitude. We cannot just rest in an easily beliefism. What is required is committed profession that if Jesus Christ is our Savior, then He must also have our devotion to His Lordship over our lives. If not, we do not get what it means to be a Christian, or how to build a church; we are just members in a Sunday morning club (Judges 2; Luke 17:1-2; 2 Cor. 4: 1-6; Phil. 2:10-12; 3:7-21).
We can examine the passage above and also take a look at the powerful Greek words Kurios and doulos that are behind them. We see a powerful description of our Lord and our call. These words describe this theme of Who is Christ and who we are in Him. They are like two sides of our relationship to God--like two sides of a coin. First, doulos , means we belong exclusively to Christ, and kurios shows us how we are to respond with our surrendered devotion or servant. We explored doulos in our last article in this series, " Are we Slaves for Jesus? " . Now we will look at Kurios, what does it mean to bow to the Lordship of Christ? For the committed professing Christian, Christ is LORD and we respond as His servant. This does not fly well for those who are shallow or prideful or apathetic or pretentious; nevertheless, it fuels the hope of those who really truly seek to place Christ first. Lordship is our lighthouse and servanthood is our response.
Lordship and servanthood synergize the bond we have to Christ and relates us to how will we now abide and live in and for Him--just as a slave (doulos) was bonded to another person and had no rights, land, or money. Such people with that designation rowed the boats of war with a whip at their backs. So, why is this word used for a prime follower of Christ? As the word and context denote, we are "to bind" ourselves, as to abide with Christ as our LORD and Master. Thus, as godly, mature followers of Christ, we can be aware and practice an attitude of surrendered devotion because we are bonded to the saving love of Jesus Christ. There is no better place to be!
He is our Sovereign Lord and Savior to whom we owe an unpayable debt and we can respond in our gratefulness for His glory. Our relationship with Christ is not just that He is our Savior, but He is also our Lord and we are His servants; in this relationship, He calls us His friends in John! Consider the wonder of this all. We were bound by sin and in a helplessness state; now, we belong are bonded to a loving, caring Shepherd who desires to carefully carry us to His prime pasture lands and let us graze on His precepts, feed on His Word, and produce His call--the fleece to give Him glory and build His Kingdom. The true believer is the one who bases all their life," IT ALL", upon Christ, with full trust and assurance by faith and obedience.
Not so sure, then look here (Psalm 15; 101; Matt. 15:15; 16:18; 18:21; 25:21; Mark 1:16-18, 26-37; 5:37; 8:29; 9:2-6; 14:33; Luke 12:41; John 6:68; 21:15-19; Acts 10:18; 15:14; Rom. 1:1; 1 10:9; Cor. 1:12; 7:22; 15:7; 2 Cor. 5:15-20; Gal. 1:19; 2:20-21; Eph. 6: 5-9; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:7; 3:1-3; 2 Thess. 1:12; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 1:1; 2:13; James 1:1-4; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1).
What and how is Lordship?
It comes down to this foundational Greek word, Kurios , which describes Who is Jesus Christ and our relationship to Him. It means lord master as the one who has absolute ownership rights. It simply means to bow to the Lordship of Christ! For Jesus is the Supreme God, and we are an offering to Him, and we are to acknowledge His sovereignty and rule in our lives, in the universe and in His Church. The key to understanding this is the main passages, such as John fifteen, as this is about possessing the attitude that Christ loves us we are in Him and He is our Creator, Provider as well as our employer for purpose, so we do our work for His glory. We may have a paycheck from a human employer, but our ultimate authority and manager is Christ Himself! We show our value-that Christ paid a price for us-so we in turn can respond with a humble attitude. Then we are to be our best for His glory, regardless of our circumstances ( John 15:18-27 ; Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 7:23; Eph. 6:5-8; Phil. 2:1-11).
Lordship helps us adjust our mindset to see Christ at work in us, in others and in the world and what is in His Word as an opportunity grow and to please Him, and in so doing, be a blessing to those around us with our practical obedience and diligence! This allows us to do our best for Christ's highest with excitement and passion in order to engage our call and His precepts. He asks us to love our call and pursue our best for His glory (Prov. 10:4; Rom. 12:11; Col. 3:23).
Lordship means that Jesus Christ is greater than everything! He is greater than angels, and so are His Name, His role, and His purpose. These has been given by God for Him and presented to us. Jesus is the Son and the eternal Sovereign God; God wants the entire universe to recognize Christ's sonship and LORDSHIP and rule. In fact, angels too must recognize and worship Jesus as LORD. Angels of various categories and responsibilities all must know and see the Son as Royal, God eternal. He who made the universe made you and me, runs all things, and knows all things; His love is inexhaustible and His holiness indescribable. He has always existed and will always endure forever, yet all other things will eventually fade. His enemies-those who hate God and everything that is good-will be judged and will be humiliated. Yet, angels are servants of God, messengers to worship Him and care for Him and show Him to others, and even serve us. They are important and precious, sent from God to us; but they are not God nor do they hold any of His attributes.
Lordship is about the infinite deity, superiority, and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the eternal, Holy God, all of which is also documented by the Old Testament. In addition, Jesus is infinitely superior to any created being or entity. Jesus is described as the Immutable, Eternal, Most Holy, and Supreme God. This implies several questions to us: one is who is Jesus to you? What have you done with this knowledge? Do you see, feel and know His Divine Fullness? Do you realize that through Christ we have everything that is important and effectual for eternity (Deut. 32:43; 2 Sam. 7:14; Psalm 2:7; 97:7; Acts 13:33)?
Lordship and holy living is not forced upon us. We are not adhering to a religion, but a relationship with our Lord! Holy living comes from a life that is transformed and renewed by what Christ has done for us! We can't mature in the faith by punishing ourselves, or seeking mystic or special revelations; rather it is about knowing, trusting, and obeying Christ as LORD, realizing Who He is and what He has done for us and then responding in kind by our gratitude, trust, and obedience. The growing popular notion that we can do as we please since we are in Christ is purely wrong. This now becomes a form of relativism. Such thinking and behavior equates a life that is meaningless and produces little to no fruit (Rom. 12; Col. 4:7-18).
Lordship is to know Christ
By knowing Christ as LORD and gleaning His precepts we can know who we are, what we can do, what we will be. Then, how we can be fueled to keep going through the joys and trials of life. Through Christ, we can commune with the Father; we have a life worth having so it is worth living and a purpose that will resound throughout eternity! The key to taking hold of this is to know Christ, and understand who He is and what He has done. In converse, when we chase our speculations and others trends through misguided and faulty desires or wants, we miss out on Him and change the truth for a lie that can do nothing for us. Then we will build a hopeless weak church of no purpose. Perhaps we will have numbers, but we will have no Kingdom impact. Whether it is worshiping angels as the early church struggled with or listening to false prophets, ignoring His Supreme Rule and our call or being disobedient to His precepts, we are the ones who lose out. But, when we seek as in place Him first, we mature; when we walk by faith, we grow and nothing important will take His Truth. Put on Christ and take off your old rags; see His wonder; allow Him to thread His truth in and through you into a masterful cloak of honor and glory. Be made in Him and for Him and go forth to serve Him (Heb. 1:1-14)!
By honoring His Lordship we can better take hold the power to live for Him victoriously and with excellence! We participate as sons, children of God, as we are conformed to the likeness of Christ. We have God living in us guiding, leading, motivating, and fulfilling us Imagine what he can do in you and in your church? He feeds us the spiritual food, pays our spiritual debt, and gives us knowledge and the assets to be godly and good. If we truly trust in Christ, not just as Savior but also as LORD, we are given the power and ability to live a life of fullness, distinction of character, and spiritual maturity so He is glorified by our lives and living testimony. He gives us the resources. They are here for us and are at our disposal. We are not alone or cut off from what we need! But, there is a catch. We have to go for it; we have to appropriate His gifts and opportunities into our lives, as in finding and engaging them. We take firm hold of our faith (make our election sure) when we trust and then obey what He has for us. If we do not, we live a life of waste and even sin, missing out what is so good and precious for us. Why would anyone forsake His love and gifts (Gen. 3:5; Deut. 31:6; John 1:12; Rom. 8:9-21, 29; Phil. 2:13; 3:13-14; 4:13; 1 Pet. 1:1-4; 2 Pet. 1:9, 11)?
Be a person who loves and serves, one who exhibits appreciation and faith and desires to do what it takes to put it in action. Our real service comes from realizing who we are in Christ and allowing our devotion to translate into application. What God wants is for us to do and move our faith-to go beyond the mindset of "I have my salvation and thus, I need to do nothing more." This is actually true; we cannot buy more favor or work for our salvation, but we can, as these people exhibited, be faithful and devoted. Exercise your faith and take advantage of your opportunities to grow and promote Christ's Message.
How does Lordship translate to the Life of the Church?
Our faithfulness and helping one another by service and collective action is what matters to God. The more we put into our faith and come together, the more we are used to get the Gospel out. This is also about encouragement and service; it is contagious and mutually shows one another our faith while it is also displayed to those who do not know Christ. Our service also reflects into eternity, touching others and our Lord too! Recognizing Christ's Lordship builds our faithfulness, which is what makes a person attractive to God and others. People with friends are also persons who are friend-makers because they listen and show appreciation and are not consumed with personal issues and hurts. Being grateful while being a greeter is also what builds and grows a church. It is about leaders being faithful and members being loving and hospitable. It shows our Lord's love and makes a church a place people want to be a part of. Our faithfulness, along with the Holy Spirit's empowerment and illumination, is what carries on the work of our Lord, demonstrates His love, and shows that His message is working so others will want to be a part of it.
The fallout of our reverence to His Lordship is we will realize that when we devote ourselves more to Christ, we have more opportunities in life and ministry. Why would any Christian or church leader not want that? The call is simple and the action to accept the call to be fully devoted to Christ as Lord is a simple endeavor. What it takes is to have a mindset that our relationship with Christ must be real, persevering, our will needs to be open in order to be shaped and formed by Him for Him! Yet, this can be very difficult for most Christians!
How does this build the local church? First, we are to be in prayer, individually and collectively, in direct communication to Christ. And, this Lordship mindset must be our theme as we engage in prayer or any action regarding our Lord, and that would be all things in life. Second, be immersed in the Word, asking what do I need to learn and grow? We are to be alert with our minds, open with our hearts and ready. Third, to synergize this, we are also to be grateful, to have a thankful attitude and composure that helps us be mobilized for the faith. When we have these right attitudes, then we will have the right aptitude. With a heart and mind shaped by Christ, we can remember others, and keep them in prayer with specific requests. Then, we will see the opportunities that He brings us and be able and willing to proclaim His message of grace to those around us in a good attitude and lifestyle. As Saint Francis said, "If you need to, even use words." We can place ourselves in situations where God will use us to impact others. The key is to remain in Him and not allow the world and its evil desires to influence us; rather, we must be the influencers to them (Col. 4:7-18)!
If we do not get to a place where we feel honestly that we are surrendered to Christ, it is OK for now; get a mentor, get busy, but do not dare ever lead by your own will. If you do not understand the Lordship of Christ, you do not belong being in a pulpit or a church boardroom or leading a ministry where Christ name is proclaimed! You have no business to pastor or minster when you are the lead and Christ is not the lead of you! If so, you will not lead a church, you will lead a club where Christ is not allowed inside; it is for whitewashed tomb folks only. How do we get out of our pride and faulty mindsets? It is easy in idea and tough in practice to realize Who is Christ. Read the Bible through, take a year, do it slowly and have a manner to observe the characters and deeds of God.
As motivation, see yourselves as you are, redeemed souls who did not disserve the purchase to be His slave! The price paid by Christ can't even be fathomed let alone counted, yet He paid it by His blood! By His blood, life is not about you, the church that you lead is not about you, your life is not even about you. You are to be about pointing to Him, how do I show my gratitude to Christ so when people see me they see Him? Discover that you are His property and this is good, you are paid in full, your relationship in Christ is secured and vital (Matt. 20:28; Mark10:45; Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:23-25; 1 Cor. 6:20, 7:23, Gal. 2:20; 3:13, Eph. 1:7; Phil. 3:1-14; Titus 2:14; Heb 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 3:20; 5:9)!
Remember, Christ is our great example for respect and endurance. He endured and suffered for you, He took your place in God's wrath, and as a sinless, innocent person, He went to the cross for us all. We then follow in His steps-not for our salvation, as it has already been given to the Christian-but to show another picture to those who are watching us. We exemplify Him by being a good example! Why? He has healed and saved us, so we need to trust Him out of our gratitude, and allow Him to be our Shepherd, Guardian, and Lord over all. The Lordship of Christ is real, it matters and we must respond wholeheartedly!
Our Response to Lordship
Our response to Lordship is in the Gospel of John, Yes, Lord ! This is our affirmation of devotion, trust, and obedience. A real, effective Christian will have Love at his/her core; thus, we must be followers before we can be leaders who will follow Him. Love is the spiritual fruit that comes from God's work in our lives to which we respond to help create real, godly faith, character, and dedication. Love is a prime character of our Lord and His Lordship, and is the engine that exhibits Christ and extends throughout our being, taking on and holding together our relationships. Love synergistically combines with the Fruit of the Spirit that flows from the Holy Spirit, creating a kind, purposeful, and content life. The Love of our Lord, our dedication to Him and His teaching will be the prime fruit that will advance our ability to relate to all, to grow in all of our relationships and church, and to better others as well as ourselves (John 14:21; 21:15-25; Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Pet. 1:3-11).
Now let's look again at our opening questions:Who is Jesus Christ to you? Who are you in Him?
How is He displayed in your Church?
Who and how should He be?
Is Christ Lord over you? Is He really, LORD Almighty?!
Has He come to bear upon your life?
Can you answer these questions? If not, what is in the way?
His redemptive work must break our will so we are in Him and He is not just a part of you but THE part of you (John 3:30)! This is what spurs us on and gives us the means to be encouragers and faith developers to one another in unity and love. This true, spiritual growth will usually be slow to build and will be humble. It will show meekness and never pride. If you have pride in your spiritual life, you will not see His Lordship or your call to be His servant, and you do not have a real spiritual life; instead, you will have a self-directed life that will adversely affect all of your life. If you are a leader and it is all about what you have done, you are prideful and definitely in the wrong profession; the theme of Lordship has no place in you! Get out of the church and get on your knees until you are right with God; then, rejoin the church when you are ready in Him!
Never rest your faith or church in a simple sinner's prayer and nothing else. Christ's grace gets us the admission into the club, but what good is the club if we never use it? Our faith and practice must be real. Really, genuinely use the club; do not just rely on its privileges! How to do this? His Lordship must be evident! Rely on Christ; be real in your faith completely! Christ's sacrifice must have reached in the depths of our personality, will, and aspirations wholly, so all you are and strive to be in life is because what Jesus has done for you. Only then can we lead, can we teach, and we can build an effectual God glorifying church!
© 2012, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/