I have found an area of agreement with Paul. And it feels, well, ok. (See this post for why that is more than a little surprising).
I’m a Presbyterian now so I guess that makes me part of the chosen. But it hasn’t always been that way. If you grow up unchosen, as I did, at some point you have to “give your life to Christ”. It’s a public thing. Basically, you respond to a song at the end of a church service, with everyone staring at you, knowing good and well that attached to every staring eye is an empty stomach. You’re the only thing between all those people and the buffet line. It’s a little intimidating. Suffering for the gospel starts early for the unchosen.
I accepted my invitation one night after dinner at church camp (I’m clever that way; not a hungry person in the crowd). I was nine years old. I came forward to strumming guitars and a room full of people singing I Have Decided To Follow Jesus. When I got to the front, someone asked me if I wanted Jesus to be Lord of my life. They way I figured it, some grown up was lording over virtually every part of my life anyway. “Yea, sure,” I said.
Paul talks alot about the Lordship of Christ. Perhaps Paul and I should have talked before I made my fateful decision that night. Because this Lordship stuff is tough. In part because Paul says that Jesus is the Lord of everything.
For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones of powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have supremacy.
Everything? Talk about a control freak. Geesh.
It seems to me like there ought to be some things that are just off limits. And as to what those things are, I’m open to negotiation. My church life? Jesus, take the wheel. My family life? I get that. My free time? Yea, sure, some of it anyway. My work life? We can talk about that. My finances? My priorities? My body? My speech? My thoughts? Everything?
Everything, says Paul.
This Lordship stuff is tough but I think Paul is right on this one. I think Jesus wants to be Lord of everything. And I’m not there yet. In fact, it’s difficult for me to even imagine how life under Lordship would work. It’s difficult for me to imagine a life in which I completely give up control of decisions involving my finances, my family, my work, even my thoughts. Maybe I’m the control freak. But just the thought of that makes me very uncomfortable. Like most folks, I value my independence and my self sufficiency. Giving that up makes me nervous.
But whether I knew it or not, the decision I made nearly forty years ago, was to give myself wholly and unconditionally to God. And that means making him Lord of my life –every part of it. As Paul says in the fourteenth chapter of Romans:
7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9
So, Paul, I’m with you on this Lordship stuff. I think you’ve got it about right. That doesn’t make it any easier. And I still think you’re wrong about some of the other stuff. But I’ll save that for later.