Who would think that three simple words could make the difference between life and death? However, that was the situation faced by the early Christians. Caesar identified himself as a god. His subjects were to affirm that. Those who refused he considered a threat to his empire. The courageous and faithful Christian martyrs embraced public censure, imprisonment, and death rather than recite the three simple words, “Caesar is Lord.”
In the song, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” Bob Dylan makes the point that no one is autonomous. We either serve the devil or the Lord. This might seem overly simplistic, but it is theologically accurate. Unless God converts us, we are “following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).
However, when God made us alive in Christ, we “received Christ Jesus the Lord” (Col. 2:6). This affected not only our external actions but also our speech and thoughts. “As servants of God,” we are characterized by “truthful speech” (2 Cor. 6:4-7). We are to avoid being taken captive by philosophies that are “not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). On the contrary, we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). When the woke mob threatens to label us as hateful and violent for not affirming their sinful delusions, we must declare, “Jesus is Lord.”
Consequently, it is foolish to think the church can tolerate false doctrine and sexual perversions and yet still be Christian (Rev. 2:14-15). We must show love and compassion for those in bondage to sin, but never at the expense of the truth. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
The challenge we face as Christians today, is not how to avoid controversy (though that is important), but rather how to stand for the biblically incontrovertible truths that are foundational to the gospel. These include God as the author of truth and creator of male and female in his image, man as fallen into sin and rebellion, and Christ as the only mediator and means of reconciliation. As faithful followers of Christ we cannot deny these truths and must affirm no one who does.
Therefore, we find ourselves, as Christians, in opposition to the predominant worldview that holds sway in institutions, corporations, and media. We have a number of weapons at our disposal, including political activism and legal proceedings. Yet we risk bringing a knife to a sword fight if we do not employ our greatest weapon. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Having been baptized into Christ, we share in the Holy Spirit. We rely on his power and his methods – proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our message also includes three simple words – “Jesus is Lord.” However, we will proclaim it faithfully and effectively only in the Spirit’s power. That means our evangelism will be characterized by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Thus, armed with the gospel and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we seek nothing short of the overthrow of Satan’s kingdom. Indeed, our success is sure. One day, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
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