by Rev. Samuel Son
The confession “Jesus, my Lord and Savior” is lost on us because the word “Lord” is archaic. We don’t call anyone “Lord” anymore. The title closest to it is “Sir,” but their similarity is that of a bowl of water to the Pacific, not much. The relationship established by those two titles is vastly different. “Sir” doesn’t carry absolute authority and its demand of obedience. Lordship does.
Because we have lost the authority of Lordship, we pretty much did what whatever we wanted to do with the word “Savior.” We privatized the word. Christ saves my soul for eternity when I assent to the right doctrines. But eternal life is far more majestic and earthy than our faddish translation of it as mere afterlife. I can’t find such reductionist teaching in Scripture.
When Cornelius the Centurion, the first Gentile convert, gets baptized, his words “Lord and Savior” resonated with the Roman Imperial Cult’s proclamation that the Roman Emperor was “Lord who saved the nations by bringing peace.” So when he knelt to get baptized, the emperor Tiberius was being replaced.
The confession of Christ as Lord means Jesus is the King over all, including earthly thrones. And Savior is one who comes and saves the nations. Jesus is Lord and Savior because Jesus is the True Emperor that the Roman Emperors have failed to be (and for that matter including the failed Jewish kings). And Jesus saves us not by plucking our soul out of earth which is going to hell, but by establishing his own Empire over the ends of the earth. God has become King, the promise of all the old prophets of Israel.
And if Lordship and obedience is the main narrative of salvation, then the whole civil war between work and faith, legalism and grace loses its animosity. The conflict between the two families is traced back to an incident that never happened. Paul was not a disciple of grace who was run out of town by disciples of work based salvation (at the heart it was ugly prejudice, Jews who did not want Gentiles to share in Israel’s inheritance). There is no distinction between faith and obedience. Obedience is the faithful living under Christ’s Kingship. Christ has started the salvation work and the work will be done, regardless of our individual choices. But we can choose whether we get to say we played a role before the coronation day, the return of Christ.
Obedience in this way demands all. Obedience in this way is adventurous. We have been all knighted.