Lordship has become soft and elastic in the warmth and comfort of many of our churches. Yet when we truly make Jesus Lord over our lives, it results in great blessings. But as lordship becomes flexible and flimsy, the blessings vanish. True lordship is clear and solid. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Jesus is either Lord of all, or He’s not Lord at all.” So what does the lordship of Jesus mean?
At a painting job I once managed, a worker took the initiative to touch up the wall paint around several doorframes. I value initiative, but after the paint had dried, every doorway had a shiny strip around it. The color was a perfect match but the painter had used paint of the wrong sheen. The mistake happened because he ignored one simple instruction: “Read the paint can!”
Jesus warned about possible misunderstandings of lordship—the kind that use polite language and bold initiative, but fail to pay attention to the master’s will.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:21-23)
Strong words! They probably don’t get highlighted in our Bibles very often! Jesus pointed to the essence of lordship: pay attention to the Father’s will and do what He says. The Bible tells us the will of God. Often He provides specific guidance for our individual lives, ministries, or churches. That additional guidance is always consistent with Scripture. Making Jesus Lord involves reading the Bible and, to whatever extent we are inexperienced, allowing others to train us to understand the meaning and application.
Many of us live in a culture that softens strong words:
- We rightly admire initiative and good intentions. But when God’s will is ignored, well-intentioned initiative still amounts to lawlessness.
- Supernatural gifts are a huge blessing and change many lives. Surely abundant good fruit is what matters! But Jesus said that some people will exercise prophetic and miraculous power while failing to do God’s will.
- Using Jesus’ name as though it is a stamp of heavenly approval doesn’t help. To speak and act in the name of Jesus means much more than adding a tagline to our prayers and newsletters. To do anything in the name of Jesus means to be consistent with all the character and will of God that are implied by that little word “name.” Making Jesus lord of some compartments of our lives while excluding Him from others is a mockery of lordship.
Don’t think that God will reward us just because we put a nice shine on our lives and ministries, He wants to be the absolute Lord. Jesus said that instead of entering the kingdom, such people would be turned away.
Following Jesus is an all-or-nothing commitment. Thankfully, the Lord is just and loving. He understands our failings and is ready to forgive us. But let’s take Him seriously. Lordship might sound restrictive but following our Savior is true freedom.
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