April / May 2017 - Vol. 91

Christ by El Greco

Jesus Is Lord
by Carlos Mantica

The title “Lord” is Jesus’ title par excellence. The New Testament gives him this title six hundred times. The Greek word is Kyrios, which expresses, as no other word does, the reality of Jesus Christ as the Lord over all. Kyrios means “absolute master or owner” – the one who has full rights and does what he wants with the things that belong to him. We Christians belong to Jesus Christ, and he can do with us as he pleases.

Kyrios means lord over and against a slave: someone who can exercise absolute control and demand total obedience. That is why he says, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). If you serve two, none of them is your real master or lord. Calling him Lord means to reckon ourselves as his own possession - slaves who obey and follow the master.

Kyrios was the title given to the Roman emperor, that is, to the highest authority the world knew of. In the case of Jesus, it is the title of him who says to us, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Finally, Kyrios is the name that the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, uses to translate the name of Yahweh. Jesus is, therefore, one with the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, of is over all things visible and invisible.

A lived-out truth
All of this has been for us a well-known truth, but not always a lived-out truth. I know for myself that my life is still far from reflecting the full lordship of Jesus Christ in all areas of my life.

But the fact is that, between this absolute reality, independent of our will, that Jesus is the Lord of all that exists, whether we like it or not. The personal reality is that if he is Lord of my life, then my entire life needs to be placed at his service. This is the fundamental way in which we relate to him as our Lord. And this is something I would like to deal with as part of this first stone.

If we are honest, when we review our personal relationship to him we will probably discover that Christ has been for us mainly or only the Savior. That is, he is the Christ who loves me, the Christ who saves me, the Christ who heals me, the Christ who protects me, the Christ who does errands for me.

And this kind of relationship to Jesus the Savior is, ultimately, a relationship in which Christ works for me. Christ is at my service – which is exactly the opposite of Christ as my Lord.

We all know that there are many Christians for whom Christ is only that – their Savior, their good-luck amulet, their helper, their comfort, their private secretary, their family doctor… and the Lord is so good that he allows himself to be used as such.

The devil's temptation
In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, there is a tremendous paragraph in which the devil who is training his nephew to become an effective tempter says to him:

We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun – the finely graded differences that run from “my boots” through “my dog,” “my servant,” “my wife,” “my father, “my master,” and “my country,” to “my God.” They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of “my boots,” the “my” of ownership.
It is the same pronoun, and yet it expresses quite opposite realities. And many of us have fallen into the trap.

I have no doubt that these people love Jesus. They also love their children, and there are even some who love their car. But the truth is that, when we examine their relationship to their Lord, what we find is that Christ is essentially someone they ask for things, someone they use, someone they resort to. He is someone who is there essentially to serve them. Jesus is not their Lord, but only their Savior.

Even though our lives are not entirely at his service, there is something that has changed radically inside ourselves – the way we relate to him. There is a radical change in our attitudes, and maybe this is what he expects of you right now. For example, I am not in the City of God because I like to, or because I always like it, or because our gatherings are very joyous, or for the love I receive from my brethren, or for the growth I experience, but because Jesus is the Lord.

I do not accept his mission or his ways because I think they are always the most effective. To be honest, I often think things could go better some other way. But I do it because Jesus is the Lord.

I am not willing to fight for his cause because I think that I will live to see the victory, but because Jesus is the Lord.

We try to sow, not because we are sure we will see the fruit, or because people will be thankful or full of wonder, but because Jesus is the Lord.

In my prayer life, I do not come close to him because I think I am worthy, or because I feel good next to him, for in fact I often come to him with impurity; but because Jesus is the Lord. And then I praise him with all my strength, because he is worthy, and the power, the glory and the praise are his now and forevermore.

In fact, there is a radical difference in our way of relating to him, when we do it from the perspective that Jesus is the Lord, than the way we used to relate to him when we only regarded him as the Savior.

The full Gospel
But there is also another radical difference, which is the way we now speak his Word. We now preach the full gospel. We no longer go around softening, minimizing or sugar-frosting his message, in order to make it more palatable to people, more digestible to sensitive stomachs. Instead, we proclaim his Word.

We no longer plead with people to accept him. We do not compromise his message with things like, “Look, ma’am, the Lord is going to heal you and will give you a fast-track entrance to heaven. Your husband will become tame, and your children will get out of drugs and idleness. You’re going to feel real great, you’ll get over depression, and everybody will put up with your moods. And if this part of the Gospel is a little heavy for you, we can remove it, or make a better deal. But please, accept Christ!”

Instead of that we proclaim the glory, the power and the love of a King, at whose mere name demons tremble. He is the Lord of history, with all power over kingdoms and empires. He is the creator of heaven and earth, the one who has overcome the world.

It was only from this perspective that I was finally able to understand what fear of God means, which I did not understand before. As many of you probable have, I have often made the Lord sit on the dock, when things did not come out the way I wanted. Many other times I held him accountable because the world was not the way I wished. Many other times I wanted to make deals with him – I would offer him things in exchange for his favors. Or else I would issue an invoice for my good actions, like Job.

And, like Job, one day I felt that he replied to me “out of the whirlwind”:

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)
I was nothing but a tiny worm questioning the sun… until one day I met him as my Lord. And that day I discovered something that has been very important to me, which is simply that Jesus does not owe me anything. I might have worked much or little for him; I may be a good person to some extent; I might or might not have done important things – no matter what, Jesus owes me nothing. He is the Lord, he is my Lord. And this Lord says to us:
Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ (Luke 17:7-10)
The Lord owes me nothing, and being aware of this increases my respect and fear toward my God. I know that my life rests only on his mercy, and that he can dispose at his total right and freedom on any area of my life, because he owes me nothing.

Fully in God's hands
The beautiful part of this is that this does not lead me to anguish, but to peace, because I know I am fully in his hands. I rest fully in his mercy and his love, and I am protected by his omnipotence.

This relationship has totally simplified my life. Now I need no reasons, no arguments, no incentives. In order for me to do something, it is enough to know that he wants me to. I do not need to know, or to figure out, or to decide anything. He has already decided, and he is my Lord. And everything is quite simple this way.

Maybe we need to do some review of our relationship with him if we still practice the type of prayer I call the “vending machine prayer,” because it is like one of those machines where we put a coin on the upper part (in this case it would be a prayer) to see what object we get below. Some of our prayers have in fact a magical intent, because the specific nature of magic consists of wanting to place a supernatural force at our service, through the use of rituals or words that force it to obey us.

I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Up to this date, my life has not been fully subjected to the lordship of Jesus in all its areas. There are still many, many things that need to change. But I do find inside myself a radical change in my relationship to him. I no longer care whether something pleases me, or satisfies me, or fills me with horror. All I am concerned for is his will, which is the only important thing.

This is, then, our first stone, on which the rest of the stones are laid. If the first stone is not well laid in its right place, the others will never be secure.

> See other Living Bulwark articles by Carlos Mantica

This article is adapted from the book, From Egghead to Birdhood (hatch or rot as a Christian), (c) copyright 2001 Carlos Mantica.

Carlos Mantica is a founder of The City of God community (La Cuidad de Dios) in Managua, Nicaragua, and a founding leader of the Sword of the Spirit. He served as president of the Sword of the Spirit between 1991 and 1995.

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