Here’s proof of my genius: Christianity is about Jesus. 🙂 It’s not a movement led or inspired by me, or you, or the Pope, or even Billy Graham. Nope. Christianity is a Jesus-centered, Jesus-shaped, Jesus-led movement for the benefit of all the universe.
Or at least it’s supposed to be. And that’s the first, most obvious and wonderful reminder of the statement that “Jesus is Lord.” Christianity is well known for its exclusivist claims about Jesus. We quote Jesus’ statement that he is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except by him. Unfortunately, we tend to use this as if it was merely a statement by Jesus that no one goes to heaven when they die apart from Jesus. While that’s true, I wish Christianity was better known for the larger exclusivity claimed for Jesus in that quote and in the statement that “Jesus is Lord.” When we say that “Jesus is Lord” we’re not just saying Jesus has the exclusive power to give life after death. We’re saying he has all authority over everything, everywhere, which is more in line with what the gospels seem intent on trying to tell us about him. He has power over wine and weather, forgiveness and fish, sin and sickness, demons and death. This larger authority is a far, far better and more natural reason for us to become his disciples in this life, than authority over the afterlife alone (which likely why the great commission is phrased like it is). Who better to follow than the Man with all power and authority over every facet of life? Really. Got a better suggestion? Who and why exactly?
When someone runs for president of the United States and is expected to have a decent shot at winning, the whole world wants to know what this person is about: what’s their past; what formed them; what are their passions; what does their life’s work so far tell us about them? What we want to know is this: what is this person going to do with the power and title of the presidency of the United States? A perfectly reasonable thing to want to know in light of the power of that office to affect so many. If a U.S. president wants to address the nation, television stations will, in mass, interrupt their typical programs to cover every line. Why? Because this person has power to affect many. His or her intentions are news.
Let me suggest that this is precisely what the gospels do for us, only the office in question is not the presidency of the United States. The office in question is the throne of David, God’s Messiah, who will lead the whole world with God’s own agenda and power, and whose reign will never end. Jesus’ ideas of good will cover the earth. His idea of what’s right is the basis for his judgment. That’s why the gospels don’t often self-describe themselves as “the good news about justification” or something similar. Rather, they routinely self identify as the good news about Jesus, the Christ (annointed king). The atonement, thank God, is part of this king’s great deeds, even his greatest, but also thanks to God, it’s not all there is to the ‘gospel’ of Jesus and the government he’s now leading and calling us to receive and enter on the earth. Because of the power of this government, everything about Jesus, the one Christ-ened with power by God to lead and transform, is news. The specifics of what he does with God’s power and what he commands and empowers us to do is what makes the news good.
I’ll leave you to the gospels, to Acts, to the letters to find out what all is in this king’s agenda and regular activities. It’s good, good stuff, though, I’ll tell you that right now. To quote a favorite hymn, “When Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?” Jesus is Lord. More to come.