Ministry Musings: “Jesus is Lord” (3)

We’re continuing our exploration of the phrase “Jesus is Lord.”  We have previously looked at it as personal transformation and religious scandal.

Today, we view it in relation to cultural subversion.

The only charge that the Jews could bring against Jesus that could lead to his death was the claim that he made himself equal to Caesar.  Even his claim to be Yahweh (while deeply offensive) was not against the law.  Ah, but when he began to insert himself into the political system, he was in for trouble!

This has continued to be true.  People will tolerate churches in their communities, until those congregations challenge the status quo.  The separation of church and state is not only the desire to keep the state from intruding upon the church, but also a fence to try to keep the church from influencing the state. “Business as usual” never takes kindly to subversion.

But any value system worthy of the name has significance for all of life, not just one compartment in it.  Values transcend one particular location.  By their very nature they seek to shape things larger than themselves.

When we say, “Jesus is Lord,” we are saying that no country, no form of government, no political party or leader, is paramount.  There is a great danger (and error) to name any nation as “God’s country” (when “there is none righteous, no not one”).  We put ourselves in peril when we look to a candidate to give us what only God can provide and make one party appear more ‘Christian’ than another (when “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”).

When we say, “Jesus is Lord,” we can still be patriotic, but we take our cues from Christ, not nation.  And that means we can only condone and celebrate what is done in our land when it glorifies God.  A waving flag is not supposed to cover our eyes.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to Ministry Musings: “Jesus is Lord” (3)

  1. John Harper says:

    “… that means we can only condone and celebrate what is done in our land when it glorifies God.”

    This is a deeply troubling sentiment. I’m trying to read that as charitably as I can, but it’s difficult. Obviously, the Taliban and the Ayatollah Khamenei would say the same. Religious standards for governance are the antithesis of the principles upon which the United States was founded.

    I hope what you meant was, “We can celebrate what is done in our land when it glorifies God, but since we have the privilege to live in a free, democratic society, free from the tyranny of any one religious view over another in the governance of our nation, we have the opportunity to express dissent when our leaders choose courses of action that conflict with our values.”

    If you can “only condone” what is done in the US when it glorifies God (the one you choose to worship, naturally), you leave yourself no option but to work to align government and your faith values 100%, to the exclusion of all else. I have to assume that’s not what you meant, but the language is… zealous, to say the least.

  2. Tom Pope says:

    Thank you for the reminder as we enter this contentious election season.

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