Michael Horton, in his book The Gospel Commission, offers this important corrective perspective of Christ:
The privatized view of Jesus merely as ‘personal Lord and Savior’ does not really provoke controversy today. After all, our non-Christian neighbors shrug: ‘Whatever works for you’. However, these ascriptions of praise to Jesus Christ were subversive on the lips of early Christians in the Roman Empire. After all, they were titles that Caesar had ascribed to himself. People could believe whatever they wanted to in private. Whatever they found morally useful, therapeutically valuable, or spiritually and intellectually enlightening was fine. In fact, when it came to gods, the more the merrier. The Roman Empire was a melting pot of cultures and religions. However, whatever varied religions and spiritualities it tolerated, Rome insisted that they contribute to the civil religion that included the cult of the emperor. God could have his heaven, or the inner soul, but Caesar was ‘Lord of the Earth’.
The early Christians were not fed to wild beasts or dipped in wax and set ablaze as lamps in Nero’s garden because they thought Jesus was a helpful life coach or role model, but because they witnessed to him as the only Lord and Savior of the world. Jesus does not just live in the private hearts of individuals as the source of an inner peace. He is the Creator, Ruler, Redeemer, and Judge of all the earth. And now he commands everyone everywhere to repent.
Horton’s contrast between the early days and the common contemporary caricature is stark. While the contemporary view is not so much wrong as it is deceivingly inadequate, we would do well to recalibrate any simple ‘Jesus meek and mild’ notions by reflection on the provocative power portrayed in the testimony of the Forefathers of our Faith.
5 thoughts on “Lord of Heaven & Earth”
I think all true Christians today would acknowledge Jesus as King, Lord and Savior over all creation, both our entire universe and all peoples everywhere. Else I would question at least their understanding of Jesus as King and Priest over His creation. Maybe I would have to also question their very salvation as well, or at least their understanding of who Jesus is.
Perhaps you have a point. But I think you would have to be highly suspicious of much of contemporary Evangelicalism. I suspect the message of the pulpits and expectations of the members in many Seeker churches leaves the impression the “Lordship” issue is optional. But then, such a message seems to sell…
You may be correct on that Dennis. Knowing Jesus is Lord is one thing or at least hearing that…. Living that out is another.
I believe I know a little about Lordship..wish I lived it out more each day however. So I don’t want to be too hard on those who are especially true seekers trying to understand what and how it is that we live out Jesus as Lord, Priest and King.
I think all Churches regardless of type or style or denomination deal with this issue.
David, I agree. This is an issue that is so pervasive that it is not limited to any particular denomination, nor is any denomination or church immune.
Like you, I do not want to disparage those who are genuine seekers. But there is a prevalence of pulpits who suggest the Lordship of Christ is like an accessory. But it is not we who make Jesus Lord. He IS Lord, whether we recognize it or not. But failure to recognize his Lordship is to our detriment and our peril.
Amen to that !