The earliest and most basic Christian confession was just three words long.
Jesus is Lord.
1 Corinthians 12:3 says that no one can truly confess that "Jesus is Lord" except through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 10:9-10 says that when someone confesses that "Jesus is Lord" and believes in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, then they will be saved from their sin and given eternal life.
Philippians 2:11 says that at the end of all history, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, whether in voluntary adoration or involuntary submission, that "Jesus Christ is Lord."
Jesus is Lord.
Such a simple statement but loaded with implications.
Jesus. A confession in the historical, physical Jewish man named Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, walked the roads of Galilee, was beaten and crucified under Pontius Pilate, was buried in a rich man's tomb, and was physically raised from the dead.
Is. A confession in the present reality of this Man from Galilee. He is not dead but alive, declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4). He is not just the Son of Man but the Son of God, born of a virgin but eternal in nature. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End…who was and is and is to come (Revelation 1:8).
Lord. A confession that Jesus is Creator of humanity, Sustainer of life, and Conqueror of death. This Man from Galilee is God in the flesh and He alone has power over sin, Satan, and death. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He has the right to rule over all creation…and over me.
Jesus is Lord.
It can become a cliche, a phrase said with no meaning, a slogan on a neon sign, a screen print on a T-shirt.
But it is a radical confession.
It declares allegiance. Jesus is the One I look to for salvation.
It defines faith. Jesus' death and resurrection are the basis of my hope.
It destroys pride. I am not the captain of my soul and the master of my fate.
It divides humanity. Either I receive Him or reject Him. Either I bow now in grateful adoration or bow later in forced submission.
It is the confession that caused the early Christians to face persecution and death in the Roman empire. You could worship any god you wanted, you could follow any religion you desired, you could pursue any belief you liked…as long as you didn't claim exclusive truth, as long as you kept things to yourself, as long as you were still willing to bow to the lordship of government (Caesar). A Christian who confessed unequivocally that "Jesus is Lord" was seen as subversive, disruptive, divisive…even if he was otherwise a law-abiding citizen who showed love and respect to others.
Some beliefs are simply not tolerated in a tolerant society.
Humanism says that man is the measure. Christianity says, "Jesus is Lord." Postmodernism says that you can define your own reality. Christianity says, "Jesus is Lord." Pluralism says that all religious beliefs are a matter of opinion and preference. Christianity says, "Jesus is Lord."
Christianity declares that Jesus existed in history and reigns over history.
He either was born of a virgin or He was not. He either died on a cross for our sins or He did not. He either rose from the dead or He did not.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
Christianity is an "all or nothing" confession.
Jesus is Lord.
Or Jesus is a myth…fraud…ordinary man…deceiver…tragic figure…dead revolutionary.
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. (C.S. Lewis)
As a Christian, I am not saying that I don't have struggles…doubts…questions. There are things I do not understand. There are objections hard to answer. There are days my faith is weak. But despite my doubts and in the midst of life's mysteries, I have decided to cast my lot with the Man from Nazareth.
Conceived by the Holy Spirit. Born of the virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate. Crucified. Dead. Buried. Risen. Ascended. Coming again.
And thankfully my security doesn't rest in my power but in His.
"Jesus is Lord."
And I can live with that.