As I mentioned in this article, over the coming weeks I would like to take some time to share with you a few of the things that God spoke about to me during my sabbatical. Many of those things I already knew, but the Lord was wanting to dig down into the the very core of my being, to ensure that those few things would totally shape the way I think and act.
The first of those things comes from Thomas’s cry of response after seeing Jesus, in the flesh, post-ascension. He cries out,
‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28)
What does it mean to call Jesus ‘Lord’? We live in a generation and culture that is increasingly antagonistic towards anything that impinges upon our perceived freedoms. Authority (or lordship) is a word that is often viewed with suspicion and resisted whenever it cuts against our individual will or agenda. In simple terms, calling Jesus ‘Lord’ means to willingly surrender our past, present and future into his hands. It means wholeheartedly surrendering our aspirations for the future, our opinions about others, the way we live as neighbours and the love and commitment we show to our church family. It means allowing him to challenge how we watch TV or surf online. It means surrendering the power of ‘I can’t change; this is just who I am’. Like I said, this is nothing new or surprising, but when God starts to freshly work this into your heart, the impact is profound.
I believe that most of us who profess to be Christians generally have little problem with Jesus as our saviour (we all recognise that need!) but much bigger problems with Jesus as lord (because we still want to be in control).
Let me try to personally illustrate this for you. Whilst away I had the privilege of visiting a number of friends and places around the UK. As I travelled around, God started to uncover in me a subtle lordship issue in my heart which was wrapped up in a dream about a life in a nice house in the country. Now, let me be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with living in a nice house or in the country! However, what I started to notice was that this dream was wrestling for the lordship of Jesus in a number of areas:
- If Jesus truly is lord then, until he moves me, I want to learn to be content in his plans and his purposes for me, which don’t currently include living in a nice house (we love our house, but you know what I mean) or in the country.
- If that were not enough, the challenge keeps growing because dreams often reveal heart motivations and arguments. I was subtly starting to buy in to the lie that I would be somehow happier, if I only were able to live in that nice house in the country. Instead I needed to freshly accept the lordship of Jesus over my life. He is the all-satisfying one. He is the one who brings true delight. He is the great joy-giver. Furthermore, it is a great privilege to serve him and his people in this wonderful city of Peterborough!
- And if that were not enough, when I press on a dream like this one and ask, ‘Am I willing to let it die if it challenges the lordship of Jesus?’, I soon see the power struggle for lordship in my heart!
So let me invite you to view Thomas with greater respect than he is often given. In those few words, uttered as he saw and touched the living Jesus, he nailed the profound impact that Jesus demands on our lives. He wants to be Lord! He wants authority over every aspect of our lives. Will you allow him to sift your heart and reveal areas where his lordship is being either openly or secretly challenged in the chambers of your heart? And then I want to encourage you repent and join Thomas in freshly affirming the lordship of Jesus.
Let me leave you with a provocative thought: How many of the relational and personal challenges which we face are in fact the impact, at least in part, of challenging the lordship of Jesus in our lives?