One of the more common phrases in Christianity is, “Jesus is Lord”. For those on the outside looking in, it may seem to be an empty saying, having little to no meaning. Whether or not that is true nowadays, the phrase held significant value for Christians throughout the ages. To help us understand what it means, let’s take a look a passage from the Bible that touches on it.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11
What the author of these lines is trying to convey is that Jesus is the true ruler of everything. For him to be Lord means that everything looks to him for its purpose. Knees will bow (a sign of surrender and submission) and tongues will confess (verbal agreement of truth) to attest the lordship of Jesus. Simply put, if Jesus is Lord, he gets to tell you what to do with your life.
Now, I admit, this can be a troubling thought. We live in such an individualistic time where we reserve the right to determine our own purpose in life. The goal of our existence and how we go about reaching it is totally up to us. No one has a right to tell us what we can or can’t be! That’s the beauty of the American dream– you have freedom to do whatever you want and be whoever you want to be!
What’s so powerful about the idea that we get to choose our destiny is the cunning half truth it propagates. Yes, it is true that we get to choose, but our choice is not between possible purposes. What we actually get to choose is what, or who, will determine our reason for living.
Where We Find Purpose
Take a look around at the people in your life. I’m sure many of them are living what seems like very purposeful lives. Some may be struggling, but not all. Now consider for a moment what these people find their purpose in. Some will be identifying their purpose with being a parent. If their kid loves them and grows up well, they’ve fulfilled the purpose for their life. Others might find their purpose in their career. To climb the corporate ladder is a measure of fulfilled existence in their minds. Several might be finding their purpose in a relationship. They will think, “If he or she loves me, I’ll know my life has meaning.” Still others might find their purpose in self-expression. If they can display to the world who they truly are on the inside, they have succeeded in the reason for their life. Another might be finding his purpose in being a good, moral (even religious) person. By being an upstanding member of society or religious group, they make the world a better place and thereby fulfill life’s goal. On and on the list goes.
The one similarity in all these cases is that every person is looking to something to give them purpose. Whether its a relationship, role, status, or power, something in each individual’s life is given the privilege of determining purpose. It says to the soul, “If you pour in all your time, energy, thoughts, and resources to me, I’ll give you a reason for your life.”
What’s most devastating for everyone at some point in their lives is when they come to the conclusion that none of these purpose-givers will ever truly give a satisfying existence. Trying to be satisfied will the life these purposes offer is like trying to drink water out of a colander. For those who aren’t familiar with cooking terms, a colander is a bowl with small holes in it to drain the water from noodles in dishes like spaghetti. Getting your purpose from any of these places will produce as much good as drinking from one of these.
The parent will find their child imperfect and unloving. The lover will find their partner distant or frustrating. The ladder-climber will find their career life-sucking, energy-sapping, and endlessly demanding. The self-expressive will find their deepest thoughts more and more depressing and twisted. The moral person will grow increasingly frustrated by their fruitless efforts of goodness and the seemingly endless evil in the world.
Drinking from a colander.
Every purpose has holes in it. That’s why Jesus and his followers were so bold in proclaiming his lordship. They were bold enough to call out the holes in other purposes and point them to the only purpose that is solid, the one found in Christ.
Jesus offers the only purpose that produces satisfaction. When he talks about the Kingdom of God, he’s talking about his grand plan to reconnect the world with God and make it better than it’s ever been. The future holds a utopia on earth that’s far beyond our wildest imaginations. This is the reason we were created, and it is what he invites us into.
But in order to receive the purpose that holds water, we have to submit. He is the one who runs the show, and if we will be in it, we must let him determine how we perform in every area of our lives. He must be able to command how I treat my friends, how I accomplish my work, how I deal with my sexuality, how I use my money, how I think, how I express my emotions, how I spend my free time, how I fill my weekends, how I view my body, how I cope with my desires, how I do everything!
Is He Trustworthy?
At this point you might be thinking, “There’s no reason for me to think that giving up control of my life to Jesus will be better than keeping control in my hands.” But not only does Jesus show his purpose better, he’s the only purpose-giver that has shown himself trustworthy enough to be given charge of your life.
The way in which Jesus began his plan of reconnecting the world to God was by suffering the cosmic consequences of our abandonment of God in our place. Instead of us paying for our rebellion against God, Jesus paid the price with his very life.
Now we know that he’s trustworthy to give our lives to, because he showed the lengths at which he’d go to give us what we need. He regarded us as more valuable than his own life. There was, and is, no sacrifice he would hold back to see you cared for.
Now, if he was willing to go so far for people who, at the time, rejected his claim as Lord, do you really think he would be untrustworthy to order your life? Despite the cost, he always has your long-term benefit in mind! He gave so much to help you, do you really think he’d stop after you gave control to him? As one pastor has said, if he paid so much for the present, do you really think he’d scrimp on the wrapping paper?
An old hymn says it this way,
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all
Give him your life. Let him be Lord. He is trustworthy.