(25) . . . our Lord

If Jesus Christ is my Lord, every day I shall have to choose between Christ’s claim upon me and all pulls and pressures which would take me away from him. As a Christian, I have to sit loosely to “the gang” and “the system.” The important question is not what others want me to do and be. My life’s direction must be determined by the Lord, not by my ambitions and interests or by the possibility of more fame, fun, or finances. The church of the Creed is daily marked by its choosing between “our Lord” and all the would-be lords who woo its favor.

I must always be careful how I use the world “our” with respect to the Lord. It shouldn’t sound self-righteous and nasty, as when some snip of a child says, “Our family is better than your family because we own a racing yacht!” The “our” in “our Lord” is intended to say much more about the Lord than it says about us. Nobody owns him! “Our” shouldn’t sound boastful and patronizing like “That‘s our boy!” Nor do I want to sound like a dog in the manger, implying, “Jesus is our own private Lord, for us alone; and all you others, keep your hands off!” The Christian fellowship must always keep itself open so that the outsider can become an insider when he comes to acknowledge the same Lord. Indeed, Christ has commanded us to go out seeking to bring the others in, if they will come.

Christ is Lord of all. He is the Lord of the others whether they want to recognize him as such or not. Sooner or later, in one way or another, they will have to meet their Lord and bow their knee. Our Lord is Lord of far more than his church. He has the whole world in his hands, ruling and overruling all things. All the crowns belong on his head. So the “our” in “our Lord” not only implies the oneness of all Christians, but also the oneness of the Christians with the whole human race and the whole created world.

If Jesus is the acknowledged Lord of the church, his word is bond and rule for the church. If any group of people is to get along together, they must agree to obey some principle of authority, some law or Lord. Imagine two teams trying to play some game without rules or referee! What Jesus said and did has become his rule for his church. The Bible contains the record of what Jesus said and did, and how the earliest Christians understood all this. Thus the Bible has an authority in the church which is derived from our Lord’s authority. And the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of our Lord, is with us, to help us interpret the Bible and guide our behavior. We therefore consider the Old Testament, for example, in the light of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of the Bible, as well as the Lord of Christians and the church. We judge our doings in the light of the word and Spirit of Jesus Christ. The church is not our lord, nor are we churchmen entitled to lord it over others, forcing them to conform to our notions against their will. Christ is the Lord, not we.