Should we stop saying, “Jesus is Lord”?

by | Nov 6, 2020 | Culture | 0 comments

A friend named Kelly sent me two screen shots of (I think) Twitter posts from this week. One said:

“As a pastor, I want to encourage folks to avoid toxic theology today (and every day). “No matter what happens, Jesus is King” is a form of faith that invalidates the lived experiences of faithful people all over the country who have been harmed by this administration.”

The other said:

“Dear American pastors, We know that Jesus is still on the throne. We don’t need you to tell us that. It’s dismissive and patronizing and theologically manipulative. Jesus was on the throne during the rise of many evil men. Don’t distract from what’s happening with platitudes.”

The last thing for which any time or space should be used is responding to every form of nonsense that flits across the social media universe. But I imagine a lot of you in the Young Adults fellowship have seen these quotes, or others like them, and so I did want to at least try to help work through what is going on here. And then maybe we’ll do a podcast about this soon.

Here are some quick thoughts out of a much larger pool of things that could be said.

  1. “Jesus is King” and “Jesus is still on the throne” are both simply ways of saying the ancient, fundamental Christian confession, “Jesus is Lord.” This is the basic thing Christians say to show they are Christians. It is so basic the New Testament takes it for granted that if you truly say it, you are a Christian, and that true followers of Christ will say it. There are too many verses. Type in “Christ” and “Lord” into Blue Letter Bible and do some reading.
  2. If “Jesus is Lord” is such a fundamental thing to say, Christians should say it. Philippians 2:11 says God exalted Jesus to preeminence, so that every tongue would say it. God wants it said. Even if Twitter people don’t.
  3. If God wants it said, it can’t possibly be an unloving thing for Christians to say.  “That’s unloving” has become the go-to mantra for people who oppose Christ. Whatever Christians do, if the culture doesn’t like us, we’re told it’s unloving. We’re told that it’s insensitive and that it causes pain. And they have us here, right? Christians must care about causing pain, because Christians have a command from Christ to love our neighbor. And the culture knows that. Why? Because we told them. But even though we must care if we’re accused of being unloving, we don’t need to listen, because the people who are saying these things don’t know Jesus. Or, maybe they do kind of know him, but they haven’t spent very much time reflecting on his words, and so they get moved by the cultural pressures, and end up saying foolish things. It can happen to any of us. But a person who knows Jesus cannot treat the phrase “Jesus is King” lightly. It’s not a light thing. I find it difficult to understand how they could say that “Jesus is King” is a “toxic” thing to say. Will it be “toxic” for the world when he rules from his throne? I guess that’s between them and Jesus.
  4. “Jesus is Lord” is not unloving to say, because it’s true. Full stop. Truth can never ultimately harm someone. Full stop again. It’s true. Think about it. (If you say something true in a way that harms someone, it’s not the truth that harmed them, it’s the unloving way you said it.)
  5. We say, “Jesus is still on the throne,” to remind other people who love Jesus that, no matter how unstable things look, there is ultimate stability in the universe, because God’s plan to establish his kingdom is moving forward, no matter what. Maybe the people posting these things think that the kingship of Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with our scared, confusing world? Would I say “Jesus is King” to a non-believer? Maybe not right away. It needs context. Would I say this to a friend who loves Jesus? Of course. As a pastor, would I say this to the church? If I don’t, I am not a faithful pastor. It’s a pastor’s job to remind those he pastors of the strong, unconquerable throne of Jesus, especially when all other sources of stability are being shown to be shaky. Pastors say this to strengthen the church. Christians say this to remind each other that there is never a reason to give up hope, or give in to anger, or give in to temptation, because Jesus is still on the throne. If your guy is not in the Whitehouse–don’t panic, don’t get angry or depressed, because your Lord is on his throne, and that is a more powerful position than the presidency. If your best friend gets elected–don’t get too excited, Jesus is on the throne. If your worst enemy gets elected, don’t get too worried, Jesus is on the throne. That’s not dismissive. Come join the kingdom. Repent and be saved. You’re welcome to come find the love of God. Everyone is.
  6. Saying “Jesus is King” does not invalidate anyone’s experiences. In fact, just the opposite. Hell will finally invalidate all suffering. Hell will ruin and end every plan and hope and dream. The Lordship of Christ is held out to you to offer an escape from final meaninglessness. Jesus is Lord, so if you say it, you can escape the madness and the destruction, and then all the pain and oppression and deprivation you’ve experienced will be wiped away, healed, and even gathered up into blessing for you–as King Jesus heals the earth and invites you to live in his kingdom forever. If you’ve been harmed by a presidential administration, the only hope is the fact that Jesus is Lord, and not the President of the United States. Jesus is not a politician. He’s the greatest man who ever lived. Believe me, you want Jesus to be on the throne. It’s the only hope.
  7. “Jesus is Lord” is not a platitude. Is “Tomorrow is Christmas!” a platitude? Is “You won the lottery!” a platitude? So then, how can the news that the best man who ever lived is the true, eternal King (the greatest news in history) be a platitude? Unless you don’t expect it to ever happen…

But it will. Soon. Because Jesus is Lord.

There, friends. That’s how I’d think through all this. Don’t be too moved. People need people who love them enough to remember the words that need to be said. And to keep saying them. Peace. Have a good weekend.