Heaven knows how many times a preacher have scared the living daylights out of me whenever the topic of Lordship has been preached in the church’s pulpit. I can’t even count how many times I’ve raised my hand or almost came and marched in front of the sanctuary to acknowledge Christ’s Lordship whenever a preacher would utter the cliché’ ‘if Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all’.
To be honest I still get jolted out of my wits whenever I’d hear that phrase spoken at a powerful sermon (especially if it is in vein with Jonathan Edward’s fire-and-brimstone imagery in Sinners in the Hands of an angry God) but I think, at least in common born-again evangelical circles were are most of the time short-changed whenever we would talk about Lordship, especially in the sense that Lordship in that context often implies personal piety or the habitual practice of individual spiritual disciples like doing daily devotions, prayer and going to church, which I believe is really an integral part of a person’s understanding of Christ’s Lordship. However, I find it somehow very privatistic and at worst misleading in terms of Scripture as far as Philippians 2:9-11 where it says that in Christ’s name - “every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Note here that Christ’s Lordship encompasses us since it points towards heaven, earth and under the earth, yet in spite of such unambiguous pronouncements we limit ourselves into stressing Lordship in terms of our individual lives.
It is with these abovementioned things in mind that I’d like to turn all our attention to New Testament scholar N.T. Wright’s valuable insight on Lordship and the way that we proclaim the Gospel:
Paul’s gospel must, I believe, be reinstated at the very centre of the church’s preaching. The gospel is not, as I have stressed, a set of techniques for making people Christians. Nor is it a set of systematic theological reflections, however important. The gospel is the announcement that Jesus is Lord – Lord of the world, Lord of the cosmos, Lord of the earth, of the ozone layer, of whales and waterfalls, of trees and tortoises. As soon as we get this right we destroy at a stroke the disastrous dichotomy that has existed in people’s minds between ‘preaching the gospel’ on the one hand and what used to be loosely called ‘social action’ or ‘social justice’ on the other. Preaching the gospel means announcing Jesus as Lord of the world; and unless we are prepared to contradict ourselves with every breath we take, we cannot make that announcement without seeking to bring that lordship to bear over every aspect of the world. There was a popular slogan some years ago, according to which ‘if Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.’ That was routinely applied to personal piety and commitment. I suggest that it is just as true, and just as important, in terms of the cosmic Lordship of Jesus. 1Maybe it is high time for the church to start re-stating the way it proclaim the Gospel from the personal to the cosmic and from the private to that of the public, so that indeed we would live out the mandate that is to become agents in reconciling all things in Christ.
1. Wright, N.T. – What Saint Paul Really Said p.153-154