Follow The Leader
October 15, 2020 | Didi Bacon
Every group has its own language.
In baseball player lingo, a home run is a "bomb," a "tank," or a "dinger."
Computer techies talk about "BIOS," "RAM," or "MEGS."
The Christian church is no exception.
We use words that are unique to the group, such as "Hallelujah," "Amen," and "Glory!" Very often, we say these things, but we really do not know what they mean. Take, for instance, the line, "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Like most words we use in church, the terms "Jesus Christ," "Lord," and "Savior" are all found in the Bible. They are located at the conclusion of Peter's second letter:
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18 NIV).
But what do "Lord," "Savior," and "Christ" mean?
Let's start with "Christ." Christ is not Jesus' last name! Instead, it's a title. "Christ" is derived from the Greek word Χριστός (Christos), and means "Messiah" or "Promised One." To call Jesus the Christ is to proclaim him the Messiah who was promised to the Israelites, the fulfillment of God's promises to His people through the prophets (See Matthew 2:3-6 and Micah 5:2,4).
What about "Lord" and "Savior?" Those two always seem to go together in our Christian lingo. Paul ties the two together in his letter to the Romans when he says, "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9 NIV).
Let's start with the easier of the two titles, "Savior." To call Jesus Savior is to acknowledge that Jesus is the way for all people to be made right with God through faith. Jesus made the way by going to the cross, dying, and being raised from the dead. As an innocent, Jesus' death paid the death penalty due to all of us who are guilty of breaking God's law (sin). The eternal value of Jesus' divine life was equal to cover the death price for all. We can access pardon for our sin through faith - by believing. We say that Jesus makes way for us to be right with God by grace, through faith, at baptism, for good works. Jesus is Savior.
Now to the title of "Lord." In the first century, the title "Lord" was a big deal. There were lords, and there were Lords. Lord with the little "l" was a title for someone of rank, similar to how we might use the term "Sir." Lord with a big "L" was a title that denoted divinity. It was a term used to describe a god. In the first century, the Romans began to require that the emperor be addressed as Lord with the big "L." He was Lord of lords and King of kings. If you have read the Bible, you might have heard that title used not of the emperor but of Jesus. To call Jesus Lord was a political statement that would likely get you thrown to the lions. So what does Lord mean? Simply, it means "leader." With a capital L, it means THE Leader—the one of ultimate authority.
Now here is the thing, I find it easier to have Jesus as Savior than Lord. I am all for Jesus as forgiver. I am grateful to accept God's grace through Jesus' gift of salvation. My issue is Jesus as Lord. I struggle with Jesus as my leader. I think that is where you may struggle too. You see, we continually struggle to decide who is the leader of our lives. The Bible reasons that if you accept Jesus' offer of salvation, then he owns you. The picture is that God has bought us out of slavery to sin and death to be his own. Therefore you can't have salvation without Jesus as Lord.
But learning to live with Jesus as my leader, that is difficult. You mean Jesus as my leader means he has a say in how I spend my money? You mean Jesus as my leader means I must follow what he says about my romantic relationships? You mean Jesus as my leader means that I have to bring him into the voter's booth with me on election day? Yes, yes, and yes! Following Jesus as my leader means learning to surrender to his leadership and overcoming my tendency to idolatry. Our idols are no longer statues of some random god, but we still are tempted to pledge allegiance to someone or something other than Jesus.
So the next time you say Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, ask yourself: "Do I really mean it?"