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Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut 6:4-9).
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13).
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ (Mat 7:21-23).
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Mat 6:24).
Last week, I wrote at length about the need to make Jesus your Lord. It’s not enough for Jesus to be your savior or your friend, but He must also be your Lord.
But even making Jesus your Lord is not enough, in and of itself. As Jesus indicates in Matthew 7:21-23 above. The person he’s hypothetically dialoging with clearly regards Jesus as his Lord, but it’s not enough: Jesus says, “I never knew you.”
So which is it? Does Jesus need to be your Lord, or is it enough to love Him?
Neither is enough on its own. Rather, both must be the foundation of your relationship.
Because we are the descendants of those who rebelled against aristocracy—people who overthrew their lords—I think we often do not understand that a person can love their lord. One does not need to automatically hate the one who has authority over them—authority does not inherently alienate a person from the one over whom they have authority.
We see it this way because we are raised in a culture that celebrates the casting down of lords. We’ve created a mythos in which “the People” struggled under the oppression of their lords, who never cared for them (and, if you pay attention to rhetoric, by labeling one group “the People”, you automatically dehumanize the other group—because they aren’t People). This mythos has its origins in truths, for certain, but that by no means that it’s one-hundred percent correct, either!
When one looks through history, one finds cases where those under someone’s authority genuinely loved the person in authority over them, and those people in turn seemed to genuinely love their wards as well. It doesn’t have to be an antagonistic relationship—though that certainly happened!
But our culture is based around the idea that lordship is inherently unjust and antagonistic to “the People.” It is, to us, a violation of our rights and freedoms, and thus it is wrong, and thus we hate it.
But this is not how we may approach God. We must love God and make Him our Lord, or we cannot be His.
Simply put, if you truly love God, you must make Him your Lord. And if God is truly your Lord, you must love Him.
At each phase of your life, you will find that you favor one side of this over another. It’s quite common. It is hard to maintain that balance. But it’s a balance you must pursue.
If you say you love God, but do not let Him be your Lord, He loses authority in your life. You start to say, “God wouldn’t really say that!” Despite the fact that He did. Thus you pick and choose what to submit to God and what not to, and make your own whims the standard by which you live. God loves you, after all—He would never really judge you! And thus you refuse to actually follow Him, and walk your own path, lost in the wilderness of your own desires.
If, on the other hand, you say God is your Lord but you do not love God, you have no real relationship with Him. You, in fact, make God an idol, just as the Hebrews did in the wilderness when they made a golden calf. If God is your Lord, but you do not love Him, then God is not your Father, and you are not His child, and you remain lost. And what’s more, you are disobedient to your Lord, since He commands you to love Him! So you are neither a child, nor an obedient servant! You are wholly lost.
So ask yourself: where am I right now? Is God more of a Lord or more of a Father? Because He needs to be both!
Do you find yourself saying, “God wouldn’t tell me to do that!” to justify morals? Do you find yourself not taking sin seriously because God’s your bro and totally has your back? Then it sounds like you need to remember Jesus is your Lord, and that you are not your own.
Do you find yourself not knowing why you serve? Do you find yourself not praying, having difficulty trusting God? Does God seem remote and uncaring? Then you probably need to remember that God is your Father, and that you are loved, and He eagerly wants to listen to you.
Find that balance. Pursue that balance. Because in it lies real relationship with God.