|“The Lord Almighty”
Russian Icon, c. 1900
Scripture Text: Luke 6:46-49
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”
Who do you say that I am? What does it mean to call Jesus Lord? The title “Lord” is a funny thing. We Americans are not really used to it, so, to be honest, we probably don’t even think about what it means. A “lord” is a designation of a ruling class. It is used for someone who has power and authority over others. In a feudal system, the lord was essentially the ruling landowner, one who had control over others simply by the fact that they were probably in some way indebted to the landowner. The power, the control, was not bestowed by loving subjects but rather was probably coerced through economic subjugation. The title “lord” was a top-down designation.
And yet, we freely used the word “Lord” to talk about God, to talk about Jesus. Titles are funny things. So are we using the term as a freewheeling synonym for God–God, Lord, YHWH, etc.? Or are we designating Jesus as “Lord” to make him sound more to us like God (because this whole fully human-fully divine thing is difficult enough for us to grasp) But, really, who DO we say that Jesus is? What is the Lordship of Jesus Christ? After all, if it’s a feudal system that coerces us into its realm, then faith as we understand it doesn’t even exist. There is not “choice” there. But it’s also got to be more than a sort of fan club. (OK…here’s an aside…I just went on Facebook and typed in “Jesus Christ’. Apparently, Jesus has a Facebook page, several friends, and 4,389,465 “likes”. Well, there you go…) But, seriously folks, did you read the Scripture? We do not enter the Lordship of Jesus Christ by signing up (or “friending”) Jesus.
The coming of God into our midst in the form of Jesus Christ redefined a lot of things. The idea of “Lord” and “Lordship was one of them. I do not think that God desires to coerce us into anything. God desires us to be in relationship with the Divine, to be a part of this community that, for want of a better word, we have called a lordship. But just calling Jesus “Lord” is not enough. Entering this Lordship is about becoming who God calls us to be as children of God. It is about BEING a follower of Christ, in thought, word, and deed. And it is about our choosing to do that, choosing to follow Christ, choosing to be Christ, to BE this Lordship in the world. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is God’s active self in the form a living and new humanity. We are not members of a fan club (this is not “Team Jesus”!); we are part of a Lordship that reigns over all of Creation. It is a Lordship that we do not enter but one that we become. To say that Jesus is Lord means that we affirm that we are no longer who we were before. We are part of God’s work–part of the doing, part of the welcoming, part of the affirming, part of the loving–in the world.
So, who do you say that I am? Then, I guess we need to get to work. And THEN you can post what you did on Facebook if you feel like you need to!
On this thirtieth day of Lenten observance, ask yourself the question, “Who do you say that Jesus is?”, and then ask “And what does being a part of the Lordship of Christ call me to be, call me to do?
Grace and Peace,