THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST (LESSON 1)
The lesson for this month is what does it mean to have Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. Many of you have asked Christ to come into your life as your Savior. You believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins, and you have accepted his gift of salvation. You even take comfort in the idea that Jesus has saved you from going to hell, and you appreciate the fact that he took your punishment at Calvary. But Christ wants and deserves to be more than just the one who saved you. Jesus deserves and desires to be your Lord.
What does the word "Lord" even mean? When we read the word Lord in our bible, it is referring to Christ as King. It means he has ownership, absolute control. And the bible teaches us that Jesus Christ being recognized and served as Lord is something that every person should do. In Philippians 2:9-11 it reads, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
But I believe that this is where some people have a problem. People like the Savior part, but they don't want anyone as Lord in their lives. A lot of people only respond to certain aspects of Christ's message. They think of Christ as a great teacher, and they like what he said about loving one another, and they really like the part about miracles and answered prayers. But when God's Word tells us to humble ourselves before Jesus, we falter. When Christ asks, "Will you step out from the crowd and follow and obey me?" that's where some people say, "I'm not ready. That's too big of a step for me."
So this month we are going to find out what it means to have Christ as your Savior and Lord.
Back when Christ walked the earth as a man, crowds of people followed him around. We all know the bible accounts of Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead and feeding thousands. When word spread that this man named Jesus could do all these things, people flocked to be near him. But once they heard that there were certain changes that Christ wanted them to make in their lives, the people just as quickly turned on him. These people didn't really want Christ as their Lord. They were just looking for a handout, a quick meal, an answered prayer. There were only a handful of people who really knew what it meant to call Christ Lord and who became Jesus' followers.
Let's read some words that Jesus told the crowd when he wanted to separate the true followers from the people who were just hanging around waiting for a miracle. Matthew 10:34-39, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He who findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
In those words, Jesus is telling us that being a Christian isn't all about fun and games and fitting in and getting along. As a matter of fact, if Christ is really your Lord, you should expect to not get along with some people. We all are following something or someone. You have to make a choice whom you are going to follow. Will it be Jesus or this world? If Jesus is your Lord, his will should come before your family, friends, everybody. If Jesus says to go right and everybody else says to go left, well, his voice is the one you should obey, even if it causes you to lose some friends. If you put anyone else before Jesus, than he is not your Lord.
Have you ever felt lost, as if you don't know who you are supposed to be or what to do with your future? That is probably because you are trying to run your own life. Christ tells us in the verse we read above, "he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." That does not mean that you have to kill yourself or die for your faith. It means that you have to be willing to let your old self (your ways of thinking, sinful habits, ideas of what is important) die before Christ can change you. You have to stop fighting Christ and let him have control. And when you do that, he will show you who you are meant to be. And where that verse speaks of taking up your cross and following him, that doesn't mean that you have to be crucified like Christ was. That means that you should be willing to deny your fleshly desire, which wants to be like the world, and instead choose to do what God would want you to do, regardless of the consequences.
When you go against the ways of this world and instead choose to follow Christ, you might be misunderstood, hated, laughed at, talked about, et cetera. But if Jesus is your Lord, you will willingly "carry that cross" and follow him.
Here is a question for you: Do you know what the words "proof" or "evidence" mean? If you have truly been born again and now have Christ as your Lord, there should be proof or evidence of that in your life. The bible calls it "bearing fruit." These changes will be in your attitude and actions. Galatians 5:22-26 reads "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance... And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another."
If you are the same cheating, angry, out of control person now that you were before you became a Christian, that is a sign that Christ is still not Lord in your life. If you are someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, but yet you still are engaging in sex outside of marriage, Christ is not Lord in your life. If you say that you are saved yet you still party, drink, get high, and carry on like the rest of the world, Christ is not Lord in your life. If you still steal, disrespect your parents, lie, and consistently break God's other commands, Christ is not Lord in your life. And no matter how big of a bible you own or how many times you have said a prayer asking Christ to come into your heart, if you still don't love the Lord enough to make Him number one above all else, then Jesus definitely is not Lord in your life, and there is a good chance that you are not saved at all!
In Luke 6:46, Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" And in I John 2:4 we read, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." The proof of our words is in our actions. Are your actions in line with what Jesus would have you do?
And don't get us wrong. We are not saying that you can earn your salvation by changing your ways. But if you are truly saved, there should be some evidence of some changes in your life. No, you might not become sinless overnight, but if you are not striving to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, Christ is definitely not Lord in your life. Ask yourself this: "Do I sin less now than I did three months ago?" Am I trying to stop sinning?" "Are God's standards of holiness and righteousness a part of my life?" Only you and God know the truth of those questions.
A lot of times we hear about these changes that the bible says should occur in us if we make Christ Lord of our life and we are either unwilling to change or not ready to change. And even that is nothing new. Back in Christ's time when the multitude heard Christ saying these things, many of his followers turned away. Let's see what Jesus said about that. John 6:66-69, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Back when Jesus walked the earth, many people were drawn to him, but then went back to their old sinful lifestyles because they didn't want to do the things that Jesus asked of them regarding turning from their sins. If you leave Christ because you think following him is no fun or that it's too hard, where are you going to go? Do you think this world can teach you better than Christ can? Do you think your friends deserve your love and loyalty more than the one who created you?
You know what? It's not sad that people go to hell. What's sad is that people choose to turn their backs on God himself. They choose to put all of their time and energy into temporary sinful pleasures, or hang out with people who really could care less about them or their soul. We all serve something or someone. Who better to serve than the one who created us and died for us?
You might think, "But I try, and it is too hard." God's Word promises that he will give you the strength you need to follow him and to overcome sin and temptation. Giving Christ control of your life shouldn't feel like a burden. The bible says just the opposite. In John 10:10 Christ said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Jesus wants to give you abundant life. What sins are you holding on to that are better than that?
Let's read this warning in the bible, referring to those who are not interested in making Christ Lord of their lives. Luke 9:25-26, "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."
Does Jesus know you personally? Or have you been living in such a way that you are denying the Lord?
Friends, it's not enough to have head knowledge of who Jesus is or to just say you believe. If you have claimed that Jesus is important in your life, start showing it by your actions. Live your faith. (Read this quick story for an example of "living your faith.")
And, remember, you can't only respond to certain aspects of Jesus' message. You can't have a relationship based on your terms. Being a Christian means becoming transformed into Christ's image, not molding him into the image you think is right.
So what are you going to hear when you finally come face to face with God when you die? Will it be, "Well done my good and faithful servant," or will it be the warning that we find in Matthew 7:21-23: Jesus speaking, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
IS JESUS TRULY YOUR LORD?