Words make worlds.
Catchy statement, right? It’s a phrase that emphasizes the power of language – that what we say has a way of creating the kind of environments we want to live in. That’s why the things we can in our homes, in our churches, and in our places of work actually matter. It’s because words make worlds.
But words also reflect worlds. In other words, what we say is a reflection of what we really think, feel, and believe. This is a slightly more disturbing reality, because if it’s true, then it means that there’s really no such things as a “throw away” kind of phrase. Every bit of sarcasm, every little insult, every scrap of cynicism has a kernel of truth in it. Eventually, what we really, deeply believe is going to come out in what we say.
As Christians, we should, then, pay very close attention to our words. That’s because we not only form environments with our language; it’s because our words reveal our hearts. And we might be surprised at just what is revealed there. Here’s a case in point – we often hear this phrase thrown around in church:
“I made Jesus my Lord.”
What (I hope) we mean when say that is that we made the choice of greater commitment to Jesus. That we recognized we weren’t joyfully living a life in submission to Jesus. That we weren’t taking up our crosses daily, dying to ourselves, and following Him, and we want to repent of that attitude. The problem, though, is that no one “makes” Jesus their Lord. Here’s an example to help flesh it out:
Here in the United States, we are standing on the brink of an election year. So think with me for a minute about the nature of elections. In an election, we choose our leadership. We cast ballots, and the winner of those votes becomes the leader that we follow for the next four years.
All political views aside, then, the President of the United States, because he (or she) is elected by the people, serves at the will and pleasure of those people. The people are the boss of the leader, at least in theory.
But to call Jesus “Lord” is much, much different than that.
It’s not so much a choosing as it is a recognition.
When sin entered the world in Genesis 3, God was not deposed as the rightful ruler or the universe. He wasn’t chased away at gunpoint, forced into exile by a band of more powerful mutineers. God has never given up His rule and reign; humans, in our sin, have simply chosen not to recognize it. Becoming a Christian, then, isn’t so much “making” Jesus your Lord as it is recognizing the rightful rule of Jesus over all.
So why does it matter? Isn’t this just a question of semantics? Why take up valuable viral space on an issue like this?
The reason it matters is because recognizing, rather than making, goes to the heart of what it truly means to call Jesus “Lord.” If we are “makers” rather than “recognizers,” what happens when the Lord makes a decision about the course of our lives that doesn’t seem to make sense? That doesn’t fit with our design? That causes us discomfort or pain or difficulty?
If we have “made” Him Lord, then we might well have the same reaction as when the President makes a decision we don’t agree with. We protest. We carry signs. We look forward to the next election, promising ourselves that we can choose someone different next time. And if that’s the case, then I would question:
Who’s really the boss? Is it us, those who “make,” or is it the Lord, the One who is “made”?