There are more often than not mixed feelings when we hear about Christ as Lord, than if we had mentioned Christ as Savior. Even nowadays, the mention of Christ as Savior has grown in offense because of its necessary implication that individuals need to be saved from something or someone (which they do). But the Lordship of Christ comes as a most undesirable dynamic of Christianity, especially in our modern context. People love Christ as our great High Priest who prays for us and covers our offenses by His broken body and shed blood. People are far less affectionate about Christ as our great King.
Make no mistake that the substance of Christianity includes Christ’s role as Prophet, as Priest, and as King. But as we shall soon be celebrating in the Fourth of July — we have no king. We, in the United States of America, are a kingless people. So there can be a natural disconnect between hearing that Christ is our King, and understanding its implications for our everyday lives.
The first observation may seem most obvious, but is often rejected in practice. The observation is merely this: You are not God. I am not God. Your pastor is not God. Your grandparents are not God. Your job is not God. Your inheritance or pension is not God. Your public perception is not God. Your feelings are not God. Your community is not God. Your ethnicity or genealogical relations are not God. Your resume is not God. Your education is not God. Your favorite spot in nature is not God. You are not God.
The second observation is equally important to recognize (and as obvious): You are a creature. You are a created being. There was a day where you did not exist. There will be a day when you expire. All of this in turn returns to our former observation: You are not God.
What is the point of this semi-morbid observation? Christians are taught by Scripture to learn to see themselves rightly. We are creatures who live in God’s world, and are not His co-regents. We are His subjects and Christ is our King. Scripture often expresses this reigning of Christ by ascribing to Him the title of “Lord”. There are many Old Testament echoes to the divine covenant name of God when we speak of Christ as LORD. However, one aspect of this dynamic deals with Christ’s ruling His people. But what is implied in this Lordship?
First, as Lord, Jesus deserves and demands complete obedience from every creature; not just Christians. We are as free to ignore the reign of Christ as we are to ignore the laws of gravity; we do so only to our peril. The Lordship of Christ is not presented in Scripture as one of many potential lifestyles of equal value.
Instead we consider the language of Psalm 2. This messianic psalm speaks of the rebellion from the various world leaders against God’s Anointed (the word “Christ” means “Anointed One”). Here is God’s response, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:4-6 ESV)
The Lordship of Christ does not extend merely to the Church, but comes over every portion of creation for it all belongs to the King. Just as you have a right over that which belongs to you, so does God over every inch of creation. This global dynamic to the reign of Christ is found throughout the entirety of the Old Testament and is promised to Him even in this psalm. We read in Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
The second implication looks chiefly to the Church for believers offer this obedience as acts of love and gratitude. As believers we recognize that our acts of obedience do not contribute to our salvation. To claim such a thing would be preposterous as it would decry the sufficiency of Christ’s work on our behalf. As American theologian Jonathan Edwards said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”
We are the recipients of God’s grace. But this grace is not a lifeless grace or an unproductive grace. Jesus Himself said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). The gift of grace leads us to obedience as a response of gratitude for what God has done in His people. Christian obedience is the flowering of the seed of God’s grace.
Paul demonstrated this when he taught “we are his [that is God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which god prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV) Even the good works are an outworking of God’s grace. We must demonstrate whom or what we serve. Who or what is Lord over your life? For Christians this passage continues to guides us even today, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)