Preaching Articles

"Jesus is Lord."

It's not uncommon to see these words regularly throughout our day. Printed on a bumper sticker. Worn on a T-shirt. Even spray-painted on the side of an overpass. While proclaiming Jesus' reign is never a bad thing, the danger in such overuse is that it can become cliché. A cute slogan. About as connected to God as a polite response when someone sneezes.

To the first-century Christians, however, "Jesus is Lord" meant something far more. With Caesar as the obvious ruler of the entire known world, it was not only commonplace, but expected that when someone was greeted publically, he was supposed to say, "Caesar is Lord," and to say it like he meant it. It was sort of the "Heil Hitler" of the day.

So when the early Christians chose to say, "Jesus is Lord" as their declaration, they were literally choosing to align everything with Jesus, even their own lives. Their words were not trite statements. They were downright treasonous. They echoed a subversive rebellion against the establishment that clearly resonated their allegiances and alliances. Those three words changed everything.

And shouldn't the same be true for today? If we sing it in church, wear it on a bracelet, and put it on our cars, then we need to really live out what it is saying. While the words may cost less in many settings, they shouldn't mean anything less to those saying them.

Today we live in a world ruled by consumerism. The world lives with its obvious loyalties to power, religion, greed, sex, and other idols in clear rebellion to God. But for those making this declaration, none of these is our lord. Not anymore. Jesus is Lord. We are rebelling against their rebellion.

If we are to take a similar subversive mindset as the early Christians, choosing to live out the Gospel in the world, showing people an irresistible Kingdom ruled by an irresistible King, we have to ask ourselves the question: how is this supposed to change the way that we live?  Here are a few practical reminders.

We need to deconstruct a false view of God's Kingdom. Many churches today have made the kingdom into the kingdom of religion rather than the kingdom of God. As such, we are producing passive spectators rather than active participants in the kingdom mission.  No more!  King Jesus calls us to subversively stand and fight.

Secondly, we can live as ambassadors of the kingdom in small, subversive ways. I have the opportunity to work in the research division of one of the largest providers of Christian resources in the country.

Actually, the way we make our biggest difference is by thinking small. We help pockets and handfuls of Christian groups all over to live on a kingdom mission.  I may largely spend my days doing research, writing, and speaking across the country, but I think the closest thing that I do for a kingdom effort is what I do on Sunday night: leading a small group in my neighborhood. The world may see a ten-story building as the best representation of the kingdom in my life, but they would be wrong. The kingdom is more real in my living room than in my office.

As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, "How can we do kingdom work right here and now?" We establish embassies of sorts, representing God in an alien land. The most significant work that we do will not be in huge, stadium-filled ways, but in small, primarily unnoticed ways. Simple. Sincere. Subversive.

Thirdly, we accomplish this by living in a manner directed by and empowered by our King. We are meant to be noticeable not just by the way we talk or the things we oppose, but rather by the high standards with which we operate. Our lives should be radically different, yet we cannot accomplish this on our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to work in us and draw people's attention toward the Son.

Lastly, as the Spirit accomplishes this, we need to show and share the love of Christ. Sometimes we say that sharing Christ and serving the community in the name of Christ are two sides of the same coin, but this is a poor metaphor. God's mission is not two things.  It is one thing; some parts of that mission are given to the church gathered and some are given to the church scattered. Regardless, we are called to live for Jesus' Kingdom mission.

God has already inaugurated His victory in our world, but it is not yet consummated. While we wait for His completion, we join Him in destroying the devil's works and establishing more and more outposts of His Kingdom. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom" (Luke 12:32, KJV). He has. He will. And its subversive nature changes you, those around you, and ultimately the world.

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story.


His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.  


He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.

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David Buffaloe

commented on Dec 10, 2012

great points

Casey Scott

commented on Dec 10, 2012

Great reminders Ed, thanks!

Ralph M

commented on Dec 10, 2012

(RALPH) With the season we celebrate Gods fleshly birth, for our restitution of sin, we see many houses and churches that have scenes of a manger, with the baby Jesus...but if we were to have a more realistic value of what God faced being born, we have a better look at the reality of Revelations, when the woman gives birth to a baby...and a dragon sits ready to pounce, the moment of his birth. The actions of satanic value delivered to an earthly King Herod, that led to hundreds of babies murdered...and Jesus barely escaping. This value, of satan almost trapping and destroying Gods children, and Gods son, happens many, many, many times, illustrated by the Bible in chapter and verse...until Jesus finally reveals Himself to all...even satan. What if, instead of a manger scene...a church set out the scene of a woman giving birth...and a dragon ready to devour the child...would the really of Christmas then be revealed to more who worry about presents, when the everlasting present waits for us to open our eyes God gives us,,,rather than the earthly ones we are born with? Tis the season!

Jim Woodell

commented on Dec 11, 2012

Good thoughts, reminders and points.

John E Miller

commented on Dec 17, 2012

Does scripture teach that Jesus is presently on the throne? Does scripture teach that Jesus is the King of the church?

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