The Difficulty (Matthew 16:21-22)

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

Before any of us can take the second step in our journey, we need to take the first step.   The first step in any relationship with God is confession of Jesus as Messiah – for without the forgiveness of sins, the offense of our treason under the first covenant remains, blocking us from relationship with God. The second step in our journey is accepting that God’s plan – no matter how distasteful it seems to us at the present – is better than our own plans. 

Christians of old called that idea, “lordship”. Knowing Christ as Savior is good and necessary. But knowing Christ as Lord is just as necessary. Not merely because a first step without a second step is the very definition of stumbling, but because without living with Christ as Lord of you, you will not consider Him in every decision you make. The result will be a life lived with Jesus as an ‘extra’. Even obedience to Him in some things will seem like an option, and although followed in some things, He will not be truly Lord of your life (even if you call Him that). Christ has already told us what the result of that is: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Lordship is putting Jesus first in all things, not just in how you deal with the demonic. It means allowing God’s plan to be pre-eminent in all things. 

Of course, lordship often is a bitter pill to swallow, because lordship mandates submission. Even submission to difficult things. But we are called to Christ-likeness, and our Lord Jesus modelled lordship. He understands it. He understands that although He is God, the Father must be pre-eminent. Even the Godhead has order, and the Father holds the higher office. 

“Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!””

We who live on this side of the cross understand all that was gained through Christ’s suffering and death. Yet though we get that and appreciate it, lordship of our own lives still seems the most difficult and challenging aspect of the new life that Jesus died to save us to. It seems to us every bit as difficult as the Messiah’s determination to suffer and die seemed to the disciples. But lordship means following God over oneself. It means embracing all God Most High has planned for you, even when God’s plan includes the nastiness of suffering. 

Indeed, even when it includes the nastiness of injustices done against us. 

Even when those injustices don’t seem like they are going to be corrected.

Yet God wastes nothing – suffering and death have a purpose. They did in Christ’s life, and they do in the life of the one who understands lordship. Amen. 

It is doubtful whether we can be Christian in anything unless we are Christian in everything.

A.W. Tozer

APPLICATION: Intentionality

As James 5 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”