I was walking through a shopping mall when an established fashion house’s window display caught my attention. Here was this t-shirt with the words Jesus is Lord emblazoned over the face of the crucified Christ. It had a confrontational design where those three words had a font size big enough for even the most hurried passer-by to notice them.
I wonder what was the fashion designer’s motive. Was it simply a fashion statement or did the designer feel a sudden spiritual connection with the crucified Christ?
But what does it mean to identify with those three words?
The early church and Christians welcomed encouragement and assurance, which came through the words and sentences that would form the New Testament. When they proclaimed that Jesus is Lord, they were confidently stating that he is the one and only true Lord of heaven and earth, and not Caesar or any of the emperors of the Roman Empire. Although the concerns about political and social structures in the macro sense will be encompassed in Jesus’ eventual fully manifested reign, for most of us our daily living are not consume by such concerns. The micro-worrying issues that consume our attention come from matters affecting our livelihood and relationships.
So, whether they are macro concerns or micro worries, Paul in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 3:20-21, 4:4-9) addresses both aspects. Paul reminds them that “our citizenship is in heaven”. The epitome of privileged citizenship is in the kingdom inaugurated by Jesus’ life, pivoted by his death and vindicated by his resurrection; it is the kingdom of heaven where Jesus is Lord and for now we await, “expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” in his return “to make all things subject to himself” when heaven’s will is fully manifested on earth.
In light of the above, Paul encourages the exemplification of Jesus is Lord amidst the worries of daily living. If Jesus is Lord, then we ought to “rejoice …always”. If Jesus is Lord, then we ought “not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”. If Jesus is Lord, then we ought to “think about”, what is “true… honorable… just… pure… pleasing… commendable… excellent and worthy of praise”. If Jesus is Lord, then we ought not to just “think about these things” but “keep on doing the things”. Our words, thoughts and actions are in light of the confidence that Jesus is Lord. Living out Jesus is Lord counters the clutter of concerns and worries for “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
Possibly, this is what it means to identify with those three words.
(Shortly after the t-shirt encounter, my friends, Ben and Karen, who had made a curious inquiry told me that the tshirt carried a whopping price tag of around S$400)
[The above is a post migrated from a previous blog]