Jesus is Lord


We often think about the Lordship of Christ through a macro lens: the King of the universe, seated on the throne in heaven with earth as his footstool. While this depiction is true, it doesn’t lend itself to an everyday impact. The imagery can cause us to imagine a God who is distant and not Lord over everyday life.

“Jesus is Lord” is a statement of truth in the macro sense, but also one of surrender. It is an oath of allegiance to the rule and reign of Christ. Although his kingdom is not of this world, his rule over us encompasses every realm.

We need to think about Jesus’ lordship not just as reigning above every authority, but in every sphere. His Lordship applies to our homes, families, relationships, occupations etc. Realizing this takes us in a different trajectory than the world. It is easy to slip into the same progressions in life as the world, but the way of Jesus is different. There should be an obvious difference.

The renewing of the mind transforms us from the rule of sin to the rule of Jesus. The world’s motivations pervade all aspects of life. A search for worldly success can be driven by any mix of motivations laid out in Colossians 3. Following any motivation on this list is a clear sign Jesus does not reign over a part of our mind.

“5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,  free; but Christ is all, and in all.” – Colossians 3:5-11

It is easy to get caught up in pursuing success the same way those around us do. For most of us it is the only way we have known. How could we expect to know differently?

When I was in my last year of my BComm majoring in finance, I was given a clear warning from the Holy Spirit. The path I laid out was to pursue corporate law. My immature drive at the time to compete and win would have fed a lust for power and greed. I was granted foresight into how my life would unintentionally turn from the Lord in a pursuit of worldly success if I made that decision.

Instead, I finished my degree and ran off to California to intern at a wonderful church in Fresno, fleeing from the temptation the other road presented for me. This was a moment of submission to the rule of Christ. A fear of the Lord gripped me in the moment of revelation and there was no way I wanted to choose a path that would lead me away from him.

If Jesus is Lord, the rules and patterns of this world are no longer what we follow. That moment in University showed me the patterns of this world were embedded in me despite my desire to follow Jesus. My decision making process and pursuits could not simply be trusted. My motivations needed to be submitted to another kingdom and put through the grid of the second list in Colossians 3:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:12-17

The maturing of a believer is an awakening of the mind to the many discrepancies between our confession of “Jesus is Lord” and our mental pathways. In time, the Holy Spirit reveals to the willing the discrepancies so our minds may align with our confession.

Our “Jesus is Lord” confession upon conversion is not negated by this discrepancy. Our heart’s desire in that moment is to serve the Lord, and we succeed on a macro level. But sin leaves wreckage in its wake. The continued exposure to a world that celebrates sin reinforces the old paths, making it difficult to live entirely under the reign of Christ.

This begs the question, “Do my actions, decisions, and desires reflect Jesus as Lord?” If a job promotion is offered, or an opportunity arises, this is the question we must ask. If you come into a large sum of money, your decision needs to be put through this grid. If you want to marry or date someone, ask this question. How you discipline an employee or respond to a superior must be put through this grid. Relations with friends, families, strangers, and persecutors must all be subject to the rule of Jesus. This question reveals whether your confession is a binding oath or whimsical.

Over time, this question becomes internalized. Your grid becomes scripture as you consume it. As your mind is further renewed, you find more often your internal motivations reflect the Lordship of Christ. But even the most mature must not move away from testing which king they serve with their decisions, not out of fear of failure but a fear of God, a strong desire to reject the way that leads to destruction.

Does this sound daunting? That is why we rely on the Holy Spirit and ask him to lead us, not just once, but in every task and situation. We trust him to outline our misalignment and to renew our minds.  We are still being redeemed and are not equipped without the Holy Spirit, without the full armour of God, to make true our confession that Jesus is Lord.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is not an added bonus. The Holy Spirit is our passport, marking us as citizens of heaven. He is our guide to life in the kingdom of God, and the power by which we can live under the rule and reign of Christ.

Expecting Opposition


I sometimes find myself projecting my beliefs or morals onto the world around me. I think that when people around me don’t follow the same set of biblical morals I do, they must feel guilty and know what they are doing is wrong.

I usually snap out of this mindset quickly. I realize I have been incredibly gifted with the Holy Spirit who instructs me, and a text (The Bible) that informs me. I realize I am becoming more and more aware of the way of God, and that those who do not know him have no reason to know how good his way is.

I have found this to be a freeing way to approach the world. When others wrong me, rather than being the victim, forgiveness comes quickly. Not only that, I see the potential opportunity to share Jesus with the people around me.

I was reading the story in Acts 17 where Paul and Silas are run out of Thessalonica by some Jews. They were shouting lying accusations, trying to get Paul and Silas arrested or killed. This was similar to the experience Jesus had when there were paid accusers telling lies to convict him. The more I read of scripture, the more I see this is the consistent behaviour of those opposed to Jesus.

It should come as no surprise that we today would face people who do the same. Their opposition is not just to the person of Jesus but also his way. They find their morales in something other than the way of Jesus. It makes sense this would sadden us, but it should not shock us.

I find there are 3 response options we have when we encounter this kind of situation.

  1. We can act as a victim and lash out.
  2. We can join on the same level.
  3. We can forgive them and choose the way of Jesus.

It is really important as we learn, to stop and gather ourselves before making a decision. I believe option 3 can become second nature to us, but that takes time and maturity. Just because we follow Jesus doesn’t mean we instantly make all the right decisions.

As I write this, I feel the need to clarify who I am calling to this biblical response. Those who do not know Jesus have no reason to share my convictions. They may in some way agree with me, but I am not an accountability for them, for I have no one to hold them accountable to. To my brothers and sisters in Christ, on the other hand, I have the obligation to remind of the way of Jesus. Again this is not as a victim, but one who wishes to see them flourish.

I believe that as followers of Jesus we are called to very high standards. We are ambassadors of Christ and our actions should reflect his way of doing things.

I am a big sports fan. If you ask the people who have played with or watched basketball with me, they will know I hate it when players flop or embellish a call. Some will call it acting, but I call it deceitful. They are essentially trying to lie to the refs to get them to call something that has not happened. To me, this isn’t just a part of the game, but an immoral act. I have come to grips with this being a part of today’s game, but I would still not participate in it.To me it would be like hiding conditions in the fine print of a contract. You might call my convictions petty or small, but I think all of our actions no matter how small should reflect the way of Jesus.

It is so freeing to realize the world is lost and in need of a saviour. We cannot, nor should, try to align their actions with our own. Rather, we should live the way of Jesus and invite others to know and follow him.

So many times I have found myself frustrated at the Patriot’s or Astro’s cheating scandals, or basketball players who seem to flop on every play. But now I see the reason I would act differently is not because I am better than they are, but because I know the living God who has shown me a better way. It is no longer anger, but compassion, that fills me.

I wish I could say I have mastered this. The truth is, this is a new lesson for me. It is a result of seeing the extent to which God has revealed his ways to me and forgiven me. I see more and more the distinction between my old life and my new. I am thankful for this revelation and feel so much more free being the odd one out.

“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”
Colossians 3:5

As we mature as believers, there should be more and more that separates us from the world we live in. There will be moral convictions that have changed, and some things we must give up entirely to follow Jesus. This will create an ever-growing chasm between us and the world. We will find more and more opportunities to be frustrated by the actions or words of others. That is no reason to remove ourselves, but more reason to become a light in the darkness.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

Remaining in the way of Jesus is a conscious choice. We will daily have opportunities to go along with practices that are opposed to Jesus. We must spend time in his presence and in his word. We must continually be transformed by him with the renewing of our minds. God is so faithful to prepare us for what we face if we allow him. We will so easily align ourselves with what everyone around us is doing if we are not prepared. This should not cause us to fear, but to learn to listen to the voice of God and be prepared for what he allows us to face.

God is so gracious to walk with us, not so that we can change the people around us, but so that we can live transformed lives that reveal that Jesus is alive.

Set Apart in the Mess


I love the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus. These stories contain quite a collection of people besides Jesus. Some are sinful, ostracized, and uneducated . In other stories we see battle commanders, kings, religious leaders, and successful businessmen. Jesus attends to the needs of the broken and responds to the questions of the elite. He does not maintain his image by who he spends time with but by his consistent words, actions and heart.

As followers of Jesus, we have been consecrated (set apart as sacred) to God. We have been chosen as a holy priesthood, set apart for his purposes. The life of Jesus is our model for how to do that in this world.

We see Jesus does not shy away from interactions with prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, terminally ill, beggars or partiers. He doesn’t spend time with them in order to condemn them, but to offer them hope. Jesus is the high priest we model our being “set apart” after. We see from his example we are not called to protect our image or restrict who we spend time with. In fact, this priestly call demands we interact with those who are in need of hope.

Jesus intentionally heads into the areas that are most broken because, as he puts it, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Jesus is the hope of the world, a beacon of Hope for the hopeless. Those who recognize their hopeless state cling to Jesus and cry out in repentance.

We are image bearers of Jesus, consecrated for this purpose. When we display Jesus in the dark, those searching for hope come running to the light.

So, if being set apart is not about physically separating ourselves, what does it mean?

37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
Luke 11:37-41

Our ability to offer the hope of Jesus requires our pursuit of holiness. We can not be set apart unless we are clean on the inside. Sin, by definition, is anything that separates us from God. If we in any way stand in opposition to God, we are in need of repentance. We need to confess our sin, hand it over to Jesus, and turn to live in line with the heart of God. Our being set apart is reliant on the grace of God and our willingness to repent.

Only those who know hope can display the hope available to those looking. Only those who know the goodness of God can display it. Only those who know his mercy and love can testify to the love of Christ. Sin is evidence we do not know these things. God is on display when we come to know God as our source, when the fruits of the spirit are alive in us instead of the temporary and harmful fix of sin. The Holy Spirit produces fruit within us that is attractive to those around us. Sin, however, cuts us off from this fruit and destroys the fruit in our lives. When we live life in step with God, the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. We do not produce this.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:5-10

Being set apart means that we are in pursuit of holiness. We cannot allow sin a place in our lives. There is grace in this process as we repent and turn to holiness. This grace allows us to repent and escape a life of sin. There is no excuse to go back to the old way of living.

Being set apart is an incredible privilege! Think about it. We have been chosen by God, highlighted as his own. We are a royal priesthood, sons and daughters of the king. We have been invited to know the richness of this. God freely offers us the things that the world is chasing after. The pursuits in this world, like wealth and success, are attempts to gain that which the Holy Spirit produces within us. Our being set apart is freedom and not slavery. It is freedom from chasing what only God provides. We get to receive freely from God and join him in what he is doing. Sometimes we hear words like holiness, and think about what we give up. What we give up are the faulty attempts at pursuing what only God can give.

Being set apart is an incredible gift, but must be received. We must put to death the sinful pursuits. One cannot be set apart and still chase after sin. They are mutually exclusive. God shows grace in the process, but we cannot take sin lightly. It keeps us and others from encountering the fullness of God. We are to be clean houses of God in a mess of a world.