Names of Jesus Week Fifteen, Day Four
Christianity's earliest confession of faith consisted of three short but incredibly powerful words: Jesus is Lord! The early Christians believed that the Father had placed Jesus, by virtue of his death and resurrection, at the apex of time and eternity — higher than any power or person in the universe. It is no wonder that Paul was "convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38 - 39). Both those who love him and those who oppose him will one day call Jesus "Lord."
In the end, even the devil will be forced to acknowledge him. As you bow your head in prayer before the sovereign Lord, remember that you are placing your life — the worst of your disappointments, the most protracted of your struggles, the wildest of your dreams — squarely in his hands. Knowing Jesus as Lord will lead you to a deeper experience of his presence and his power.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2: 9-11
Praying the Name
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5: 8-10.
Reflect On: Ephesians 5:8-10.
Praise God: Who gives us the grace to follow his Son.
Offer Thanks: For the ways in which the Lord has already reshaped your life.
Confess: Any tendency to resist the Lord.
Ask God: To make you eager to experience Jesus as Lord.
The apostle Paul uses the characteristic phrase "in the Lord" many times in his letters. He speaks about:
Believing in the Lord
Loving in the Lord
Working hard in the Lord
Boasting in the Lord
Being faithful in the Lord
Being strong in the Lord
Hoping in the Lord
Standing firm in the Lord
Rejoicing in the Lord
Paul even talks about being a prisoner in the Lord, and the book of Revelation makes it clear that it is possible to die in the Lord. Clearly, the early Christians considered Jesus to be not just their Savior but also their Lord. He was the atmosphere in which they lived, worked, prayed, suffered, and loved. They understood that their happiness depended not on having things their way, but on being completely aligned with Christ, uniting themselves to his character and purposes regardless of the personal cost. And when Paul spoke about being "in the Lord," he was necessarily implying that it is possible to do things "outside of the Lord."
A friend of mine specializes in renovating old houses. When bidding on a job, Bill always begins by noting any structural defects or problems he discovers in the house. I was startled the first time I heard him refer to such defects as "sins." But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made because unless such problems are fixed, the house can never be restored to pristine condition. Likewise, sin has created an enormous structural problem in the world God made, allowing evil to deform it by threading its way through individuals, families, neighborhoods, institutions, and nations. To say that creation is off-kilter is to be guilty of an understatement.
But Jesus came to remedy this problem and to restore fallen creation. His mission is to break sin's power, and he does this by saving us and then taking our disordered lives and reshaping them into his likeness. But how much like him we become depends on our giving constant consent to his lordship. That's how we learn to do things "in the Lord." We know from Scripture that Christ will continue this work until the end of the world, when every kind of disorder — from petty squabbles to world wars, from thunderstorms to tsunamis, from diabetes to death (the ultimate disorder) — will cease to exist because everything and everyone will be exactly as God intends. It is vital, then, that we know Jesus not only as Savior but also as Lord because that is the only way we can participate in building up his kingdom. Resisting his lordship, then, is more than a personal tragedy because it not only impedes the way God wants to work in us but also the way in which he wants to work through us. Our failures to believe and obey can have grave consequences for others.
Take a few moments today to be still in the Lord's presence. Bow your head before him, acclaiming him as Kyrios, your Lord forever. Then imagine your life in perfect alignment with his and let this picture become your prayer. Pray that Jesus will be all in all, working out his plans and extending his kingdom both in you and through you, world without end. Amen.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.