When You Say Jesus Is Lord
Last Monday evening, Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin had a heart attack and collapsed in the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a moving sight to see dozens of players kneeling around him and praying as medical personnel worked to restart his heart on the field. Fans around the world joined in praying for Damar, and thankfully, he has made great strides toward recovery.
I laughed when I heard the first question he asked when he woke up in the hospital. He scribbled on a clipboard, “Did we win?”
One of the doctors responded (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Yes, Damar, you won. You've won the game of life.”
It’s no surprise that a great competitor like Hamlin would want to know the outcome of the game as his first priority. And it would be wrong to say it’s the only thing that matters to him.
From the hospital he thanked fans and his family for praying for him, saying, “When you put real love out into the world, it comes back to you 3X's as much…on the long road keep praying for me!”
When you go through something like what Hamlin has been through, you realize what matters the most. Relationships that you may have taken for granted now are revealed to be essential. Your days mean more when you realize they won’t last forever. Your values get clarified.
As we begin the New Year, I can look back and see how the values of our church have been clarified through adversity. We pressed through a challenging financial season and realized the need for greater accountability and stewardship. We weathered inflation and staff changes while still carrying out a campaign to fund the vision for our new children’s area. We launched new ministries to help those who are poor in our city.
Why do we do what we do? Which value rises above all of the others? Three words capture our highest value:
Jesus is Lord.
Theologian Alan Hirsch calls this early creedal statement of the church “a worldview in a sentence.” It’s simple enough to be understood by a guy in the tire shop, but complex and dense enough to require a lifetime of unpacking what it means.
When the early church member said, “Jesus is Lord,” they meant that Jesus is sovereign. He’s the master of our lives, the founder of our faith, and the core of what we believe. His words are normative to guide our lives. His name is the banner over all that we do and the location where we take a knee. If we call Him Lord, then we must also be committed and determined to do what He says (Luke 6:46).
Romans 10:9 (ESV) says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The pastor and theologian Greg Boyd said, “The simple truth is that when Paul tells us that if we confess ‘Jesus is Lord’ we will be saved, he’s not giving us a magical salvation verbal formula. Rather, he’s stipulating what kind of relationship we need to have with Jesus to be ‘saved.’ This relationship, by definition, must be one of submission. We are saved when we authentically surrender our life over to Christ. This not only changes our eternal destiny, but it begins to bring wholeness into our life, as the Jewish concept of salvation (shalom, soteria) implies.”
Is Jesus the Lord of your life? The way that you know this is if your life is marked by complete submission and surrender to Him. It means letting Him into every room of your life. Jesus is the Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.
I’m so glad that many of us are beginning the new year by reading the Immerse Bible study plan, which starts with the Gospel of Luke (it’s not too late for you to join us if you haven’t already). Through Luke, we are remembering Jesus’ words, or maybe hearing some of them for the first time. We are taking seriously His Lordship and asking God to give us the courage and faith to do what He says.
As a church, we have a big year ahead with renovations, working to foster greater engagement and service among those who call First Baptist their family of faith, and reordering our financial house so it better represents the sacred trust of stewarding God’s resources well.
But the biggest question is whether Jesus will be the Lord of all of it. Will we honor Him by seeking His guidance in all things? Will we commit to worship that brings the best of our lives before the Living God? Jesus has shown us how to ultimately win the game of life. It's about faithfulness to Him in every way, at all times.
I’m glad Damar Hamlin is alive and giving God praise. And I’m glad to be alive with you in 2023. Let’s give our best effort in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s not miss the opportunity we have this day to work for God’s kingdom and give God glory.
Have a great week.