Who Is Lord?

Parables & Prophets  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When we orient our lives unto Jesus as Lord, it demands our whole self. Heart, soul, and mind are brought under the Lordship of Christ and this impacts everything we do and everyone we meet. This has been the way God has called people into wholeness from the beginning -- with a dramatic reordering of our lives so that we can claim "Jesus is Lord."

The New Revised Standard Version The Greatest Commandment

The Greatest Commandment

(Mk 12:28–34; Lk 10:25–28)

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

The Question about David’s Son

(Mk 12:35–37; Lk 20:41–44)

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies under your feet” ’?

45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Heart, Soul, Mind - Goals

Do you set goals? Do you have projects or accomplishments you would like to complete? Do you have a new endeavor you want to launch or a habit you want to take on (or break)?
Since my time beginning in ministry, about 15 years ago, goals have been such an important part of my process. I need goals to keep me moving, aspirations that I sometimes don’t meet, but worthy things to pursue and grow into.
This past year, I found myself having a conversation with a member of our congregation about the role of goals and how I’d had something of an epiphany about how goal setting can and does shape me. In some of my Scripture study, I’d been working with this passage, the teaching of Jesus on the greatest commandment (Love God with your heart, your soul, and your mind — a list which in the Gospel of Luke includes a fourth category, strength.) I began to wonder what it would look like to love God with all of these parts of myself.
For a long time, I’ve felt like our faith traditions often lead us to a pursuit of the mind — intellectual learning about God as the end or ultimate purpose. But what about those other categories? Would we be a more whole person if we pursued love of God with heart and soul too?
This opened up for me the revelation that loving God with our whole self should mean loving our whole self with all these characteristics, which matter to God. And I took those categories and began to map them onto some of my goals.
For instance, one goal I have had the last few years is to read 52 books a year. What if this is a goal that leads me to loving God more fully with my mind?
Or, right now, I have a goal of losing a few of the COVID-19 pounds I’ve gained over the summer. I map that onto the category of strength.
Before the pandemic broke out, I had a goal of practicing in my prayer life by visiting other churches during the mid-week time to pray and receive spiritual nourishment where I was not the worship leader — this was and is a “soul” goal.
I began to realize that by orienting my pursuits in these categories, I was learning to love myself toward the wholeness of who God desires me to be. And through this, I love God by honoring the complete person I am made to be.
Taking it further, we hear Jesus teach that there is a “second” commandment that is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.
If we learn to love ourselves and grow toward wholeness by pursuing growth in heart, mind, and soul — then we can also love others by encouraging and supporting them unto these same kinds of goals. By loving God and loving ourselves we are empowered to also love others. The well of resolve and capacity to do so comes from the first part and it leads to the second part.
Love my neighbor as myself? How might this work?
Well, I think we’re hearing a lot about this in the news and cultural conversation right now. We are masking up for safety, but its not just safety for self — it is safety for neighbor, for the other, for the vulnerable around us. We love God and self and neighbor by the way we obey sanitization protocols and wear our masks and support a movement toward diminishing the spread of disease.
We hear this also in the conversation about voting and political action. In our highly individualistic society, we think about how our vote matters — our individual vote and contribution to the political process. Yes! Love thyself as a beloved creature of God’s design by voting for your own welfare. AND, we vote and act on behalf of our neighbors as well. Our individual actions impact others and can work to the benefit and flourishing of others. I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “vote like your life depends on it.” Yes, AND remember that someone else’s life depends on it too. We are intrinsically linked to each other.

Intrinsic Links of Proclaiming Lordship and Our Actions

That phrase, “intrinsically linked”, has been rolling around in my head as I think about this passage from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew. When I start to reorder my goals and actions around the way of Jesus’ commandment, loving God, self, and neighbor with heart, soul, and mind — this starts to change the pattern of how I live and my actions in this new ordered self are intrinsically linked with the Lordship of Christ.
Setting goals, loving neighbor, loving God, loving self — all of this is about the link of action and proclaiming the Lordship of Christ. This is the pattern that God has set up for God’s people all the way through Scripture — order your lives around the way of God and this pattern will link and impact every single action in your life.
What might the outcomes of this be?
To remind us back to last week’s teaching, we find that a reordered heart, mind, and soul lead us to respond to God with the abundant generosity of giving our whole lives away. If we order our lives around the abundant God, we find that our whole self also starts to live as if there is abundance. We find generosity. We find hospitality. We find joy in service. Our heart, mind, and soul become oriented towards all that is possible.
On the opposite end, when we resist this ordering of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength from their rightful place of orientation towards the loving God, we find ourselves worrying about scarcity. We find distrust. We hoard. We keep looking over our shoulder — is my neighbor going to attack me? Is my brother going to get ahead in the rat race?
This is an intrinsic link between how we proclaim the Lordship of Christ, who orders our lives in ways of heart, mind, and soul flourishing — and the ways we live out our public faith.
Another example of how this works to the good is how we respond in public life. I don’t know if you realized, but it’s election season! :) When we order our lives unto the way of Jesus, this should absolutely impact the way we vote. How do I love my neighbor and myself and my God? I speak up for the hurting and poor in need. I stand in solidarity with the oppressed and the downtrodden. I resist the powerful who only seek more powerful and I resist them with my vote and my voice.
Who is my Lord? Jesus Christ. And what does my Lord require of me: do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. All the other commandments are linked to this straightforward one: Love God with your whole self. No one else gets that full devotion and all others’ who do get my love get it not because they are entitled to it, but because my devotion to my Lord orders my life in such a way that it is the outpouring of that love.
A life ordered unto the goals and formation of heart, soul, and mind which love God, neighbor, and self — this is what God designs for us and longs for us to claim.
What if we started asking questions of ourselves through this framework? Does what I do, do my goals, do the things I put time and energy into — do they orient my heart, soul, and mind unto a more whole way of loving God and neighbor? Do we daresay that we can love ourselves in a way that leads to greater health and wholeness, as well? What if this is what it is all about — Jesus says all the other commandments hinge on this!
What if the other way is the way of being overcome by the powerful, ruled by the wicked, drowning in selfish desires that only fuel the numbing to our trauma and reenact our hurt on others? What if how we are living is hurting us and harming those around us? Can we just lament this, for a moment, because of how true and painful that reality is?

The Christ through Time — David, Cyrus, leading to and flowing from Jesus

I want to close with a quick reflection on the second part of the Matthew text, a reminder about the way God used David to point to the Lordship of Christ. I also want to pull in the reminder of Cyrus, the chosen Persian leader, and look at our text from Leviticus.
How do all of those play into this teaching on the Lordship of Christ?
It is clear that throughout the course of history, God has spoken through leaders and prophets, kings and judges, to reveal this excellent way of orienting our heart, mind, and soul unto God’s way of flourishing.
We see it in the question about David — the Messiah is to be from David’s line, a son of David. But not in the way we expect: The Messiah is the one David did and always will point to. The Messiah is the one who leads the king, not the other way around.
Same with Cyrus — Cyrus is in the grip of God, oriented to God’s purposes. Cyrus’ actions lead to the goodness of those who were in exile — God is orienting Cyrus’ life in such a way that heart, mind, and soul are brought into restoration for the people of God.
And we see it extending further back in to the story of the Hebrew people: God, YHWH, the Lord of Israel, calls for a just ordering of the people’s lives around the mutual flourishing of the neighbors and the poor and their kin.
This is what God has been and is doing through all time. Orienting our lives (our hearts, minds, and souls) unto the way of love for the other, mutual care and support of the other. Lives oriented in this way do not live in fear. Lives oriented in this way live in active engagement with lifting up the poor and the hurting, resisting the powerful, demanding justice.
This is how Christ moves through the whole story — God calling a lived-out faith, an embodied example of lovingkindness to neighbor, self, and God.

Answering the Question: Who is Lord?

I find myself drawn to this question, “Who is Lord?” again and again. How I answer that impacts my whole life. How I orient myself unto God’s lordship is crucial in how I live, move, and have my being in the world.
If you confront no other question in this season, as we are asked to vote and stand beside leaders and stand for our neighbors, I hope you confront this one: Who is Lord?
And with the answer you arrive at — how does the lordship of the person you’ve chosen lead you to live? Does it lead to love of God, self and neighbor? Does it lead to flourishing and hope for all?
May we find a life built upon the Lordship of Christ. Amen? Amen.
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