Summary: Thanks to Constantine’s move, the church gradually began to think of its universality as power rather than as an evangelical mandate. Christ is to be lord of our political life, our cultural life, our everyday life -- every aspect.
Christ is lord of all! What a bold statement! Maybe even an arrogant statement! Lord of all? Do we believe that?
It was said of one preacher that “for tender minds he served up half a Christ.” Behind that lie two realities – first, that many of us don’t want the full gospel, we’d rather just have religion; and second, that many preachers just give people what they want and not what they need. For tender minds we serve up half a Christ. And maybe give you a buzz for the moment, but nothing that nurtures, nothing that stays around. We are tempted to serve nothing but dessert and call it a meal; but anybody who has ever tried that knows that no sooner has the sugar high left you but you are hungry again.
I hope today to serve up more than half a Christ and more than a dessert gospel. I hope to share the measure of the full stature of Christ and a broad gospel.
Christ is lord of all things. His church has received a gift of universal scope, a wide-ranging responsibility. We the church have been given a gift of representing Christ’s lordship in all things. The full gospel is the mind-stretching, heart-firing, gut-wrenching idea that in Jesus Christ, all things come together. To Him all things are subjected. And the church of Jesus Christ, if it is to be faithful, is to receive all things from Him and is to claim all things for Him. Christ is lord of all.
Wow! Are you up for that? Do you think you can take a full gospel message this morning? Do you think your mind can range and roam over all things – from the tiniest subatomic particle to the ten thousandth galaxy flung into outer space? Are you ready to think about everything from the smallest personal decisions to the most far-reaching political policies?
Well, pastor, the Redskins do play Dallas at one o’clock today. Don’t take more than twenty minutes to talk about “all things”! I understand. So let me first condense the message; then give you some history; and then show you what a wonderful gift we have been given. We have been given the gift of claiming all things for Christ, the gift of universality.
Here is my message, thoroughly condensed; take this away, whether you get anything else or not: Unless Christ is lord of all, He cannot be lord at all. Do you agree? Will you repeat that with me? Unless Christ is lord of all, He cannot be lord at all.
Now for a very short history lesson. In the year 312 AD, at the Battle of the Mulvian Bridge, a general named Constantine was fighting for control of the Roman Empire. Constantine, it is said, saw in the sky a cross, and the Latin words which translate, “In this sign conquer.” “In this sign – the sign of the cross – conquer.” Constantine took that to mean that if he would convert to the Christian faith, the battle would go his way. So he did convert, the battle was won, he went on to be emperor, and in short order not only did Constantine remove the laws which prohibited the Christian faith, but he then put in place laws which forced people to be Christian! This emperor, in the fourth century, in one fell swoop, took the Christian church from being an illegal society, despised and persecuted, to the top of the social heap. The only legal religion. How’s that for a success story?