Christ the King Sunday
This is, arguably, my favorite Sunday. Please remember, though, that I speak in hyperbole, so I reserve the right to call many other Sundays my favorite Sunday. But this, I think, really is my favorite Sunday besides Easter because on this Sunday, I get to confess as clearly and as loudly as I want to the most basic confession of the Christian faith:
Jesus Christ is Lord
You can see this confession throughout the New Testament.
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.1 Corinthians 12:3 (ESV)
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.2 Corinthians 4:5
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:10–11
This is the Christian confession in its most basic form. This is the Christian faith at the most fundamental level. And what worries me is that I think we get this wrong. We give lip service to it. Sure. Who’s not going to say this? What Christian is going to say, “Well, I’m not really sure if Jesus is Lord or not? I’m still kind of deciding. I’m weighing my options.” We all say, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” but often we say one thing with our words, and another with our lives.
Jesus Christ is Lord
Let me be abundantly clear. Nobody makes Jesus Lord except God the Father. You don’t make Jesus Lord of anything, including your life. He is Lord, and he is Lord of your life, and you can choose to submit to him or you can rebel. You can choose to serve him and his kingdom or you can choose to serve something and someone else and take your chances. But there shouldn’t be an ambiguity here. There’s no middle ground.
God isn’t calling you to dip your toes into the Christian faith. God isn’t calling you to see how it feels to be his disciple and then decide if it’s right for you or not. He is calling you to submit your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God as Lord of Heaven and earth, and Paul says that there:
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.1 Corinthians 15:25–26
Jesus Christ reigns now, and he is in the process of putting all his enemies under his feet, of bringing the whole created world into his eternal kingdom. And I get, generally speaking, two and half hours a week to remind you of this.
Two and a Half Hours
Let’s do some math. There are 168 hours in a week. For approximately 50-60 hours of that week, you’re asleep, so let’s say there are 110 waking hours in a week. I know you have to work. I know you have to be with your family. I know you have all kinds of things that you have to do, and I’m not faulting you for any of it. But for most people, their engagement with the Christian faith only happens on Sundays. They come to worship. Maybe they come to Sunday School. And then that’s it. Two and half hours. Maybe less.
And what’s happening the rest of those waking hours… the other 107 waking hours of the week? It’s not just that we’re with family. It’s not just that we’re at work. It’s not just that we’re having recreational time. During those other 107 hours the world is bombarding us with other narratives, with other truth claims, with other priorities and values.
What does the statement, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” have to do with your life once you leave this place? The answer, obviously, is that is has everything to do with your life once you leave this place, but the reality is that for most Christians it doesn’t.
So I’m pleading with you. Pleading. If I have to get on my hands and knees, I will. Find ways to engage with your Christian faith every day of your life. There shouldn’t be a day that doesn’t begin in prayer. There shouldn’t be a day that doesn’t end in prayer. There shouldn’t be a day that doesn’t have some moment where you just stop and say, “God, I need you. I need your grace. I need you.”
There shouldn’t be a day that goes by without you engaging with the Word of God. I mean, seriously, what day of the week is it that we don’t need to hear from God? Is it Mondays? Is that the day we don’t need to hear God’s Word? No, we need to hear from God every day.
There shouldn’t be a day that goes by in which you don’t show the love of Christ to other people created in God’s image.
And why? Why do we need prayer in our lives every day? Why do we need God’s word in our lives every day? Why do we need to show the love of Christ and work for his kingdom in some small way every day?
Because Jesus Christ is Lord
And the second you walk out the door, it’s easy to forget that truth. It’s scary easy because almost everything outside this place is designed to make us forget it. The world is incredibly deceptive. It begs for your allegiance to things that aren’t Christ, and I get two and a half hours to beg you (if I have to) to go out from these doors and let the refrain repeat in your mind that Jesus Christ is Lord and nothing else. Let it repeat so loudly that you can’t hear the incessant radio and television commercials over it, that it blocks out the advertisements that try to tell you that there’s actually something else you need other than Jesus Christ, something else that will make your life complete and full and give it meaning. Let it repeat so loudly in your mind that it blocks out the politicians who promise if you only swear your allegiance to them and their agenda they will make the world a better place. Let it repeat so loudly in your mind that it blocks out all the external and internal voices telling you that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t worthy of love, that you aren’t special. You are because Jesus Christ made you that way, and he is Lord, and anyone who tells you anything else about yourself is lying to you, even if it’s your own voice.
I cannot control what you do when you go from this place. I cannot control the voices you listen to, the books you read, or the way you spend your time.
Jesus Christ is Lord
On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Jesus Christ is Lord. And if you’re saying, “I want that life… I want that life where my mind is constantly focused on Christ and his kingdom,” now is a great time to start.
New Year’s Resolutions
Next Sunday, the season of Advent begins. Advent marks the start of the new church year. With the secular calendar, we make New Year resolutions. I’m asking you (begging you) to the same with the liturgical calendar. You’ve got a week. Spend it in prayer, thinking about what you want your life in Christ to look like. Do you want to commit to reading your Bible every day? Do you want to commit to praying every morning and evening? Do you want to commit to some new ministry or project to advance the kingdom of God in this world? Whatever it is, right it down, commit to it, and then start. Just start. If you miss a day, no big deal. Continue the next day. Build into your life habits, things that you do every day, habitually, that reflect this most basic Christian confession: Jesus Christ is Lord.
Jesus Christ is Lord
Go home and ask yourself what that sentence means. Not just when you’re here, but when you’re not here. When you’re at work. When you’re with your family. When you’re with your friends. When you’re alone. Ask yourself what it means that Jesus is Lord in those moments too, and then build into your life the habits that reflect that basic, but life changing truth.