Today’s Bible readings can be found here: Micah 1:1-16 and Romans 10:1-13.
Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (NIV)
Can it just be as simple as that? We only have to say a few words and we’ll be saved forever? Is God willing to give us everything when we verbally acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and believe that He rose from the dead? If that’s the case, then what’s the problem? It would only take thirty seconds at most for everyone to be granted eternal life, so surely we can encourage our loved ones, friends, and colleagues to take half a minute out of their busy day to say these simple, uncomplicated words and receive God’s everlasting blessing?
It would be easy if we took the words out of context and applied them at face value. However, we have to remember the time, place, and people that Paul was writing to when he first expressed this thought. The young Roman church was located in the heart of the Empire. Allegiance to Caesar was given through a simple loyalty oath – all a person had to say was “Caesar is Lord,” in order to prove their devotion to the Emperor and come under the authoritative protection of Imperial Rome. For most folks living there, this was easy; for the Christian community, this represented a major problem.
You see to declare ‘Christ is Lord’ meant giving your life, heart, and devotion to a crucified Jewish criminal rather than the almighty imperial Caesar. It was a life or death choice, especially when persecution broke out against Christians. The context means that what Paul is encouraging his Roman readers to do is to displace Caesar with Christ. Under Roman Law, that was both sedition and treason, both of which were punishable by death.
Now, do you understand what this means for us today? Think about the most important thing that we are devoted to today – it could be family, patriotism, politics, sports, or ideals. Whatever it may be, our allegiance to Christ has to be more than those things. If anything gets in the way of our service and devotion to Jesus, then we displace Him and idolize the other. This is why declaring Christ is Lord and believing in His resurrection is so hard to do. This is why so many people fail to get beyond themselves and fall before Christ. Calling Christ ‘Lord’ means we submit to Him, His will, and His way – we cannot negotiate this and put something else on the same level with Him. If we honestly want to be with God forevermore, it will take up the rest of our lives in worship, service, and devotion to Jesus. If we think that there’s any other way, we’re deluding ourselves. If we think that God will accept anything less, then we’ve ignored the context of what Paul initially wrote.
Please take time to pray about this. Ponder over Paul’s words. Ask yourself if Christ is really real in your life and if He is the Lord of your heart. If there’s something else, it will die with you. If there’s nothing else, you will live with Him.
Point to ponder: Is my faith in Christ real or do I spend more time with something else? Am I willing to truly call Him ‘Lord’?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we often take You for granted and justify our choices to be more involved with other things by excusing ourselves from worshiping or serving You. Help us to truly rethink our commitment to You and stop paying lip service. Grant us the courage to make You the Lord of our lives, no matter what changes this will incur. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Epiphany drawings called ‘Magi.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click here. If you would like to respond to this message, please send John an email to Traqair@aol.com.