Ministry Musings: “Jesus is Lord” (1)

I preached recently in our seminary chapel, and I want to spend a few weeks sharing some of what I said on that occasion.  We are using The Apostles’ Creed as a basis for our worship this Spring, and my week fell during our confession of Jesus as “our Lord…”

This early affirmation of faith is Christianity’s “steel thread”—the singular confession that undergirds everything else we believe.  When we confess our faith in the Lordship of Jesus, we are bearing witness to a number of significant things….

First, we are confessing the possibility of personal transformation.  When Paul declared in Galatians 2:20 that “I no longer live as an ‘I’,” (literal Greek), he was challenging every expression of egotism.  He was proclaiming that Jesus is the sole and singular center of our lives–what the Christian tradition has come to summarize in the phrase “God alone.” Everything else is circumference.

Before we come to Christ, we have our false self at the center.  Everything revolves around us as self-referent, self-centered, self-reliant people.  Even after we are converted and have accepted Christ as our savior, we may have a “God + __________” attitude, which keeps us still at the center, even though we now revere Jesus.

But when we say, “Jesus is Lord,” we now have only one person at the center—Christ himself.  Our self is not annihilated; it is consecrated.  It is not eliminated; it is surrendered.  It moves out on the circumference, along with everything else that is now positioned and ordered in relation to Christ.  As Ken Blanchard has put it, out ego has shifted from “Edging God Out” to “Exalting God Only” (see his book, The Servant Leader).

E. Stanley Jones said that the synonym for Christianity is “transformation.”  When we say that “Jesus is Lord,” we have declared that transformation to be real for ourselves.




About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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