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When poised before the decision of faith, the first thing I was asked to do was confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Almost 30 years later, it is clear that no affirmation I have ever made has more radical implications. Daily I face its uncomfortable, sometimes scandalous, demands. If you are a Christian, so do you.

As a young convert, I learned that confessing Christ as Lord meant renouncing lordship over my own life. The Four Spiritual Laws tract illustrated for me this transition in control—henceforth Jesus, not me, would occupy the throne of my life. Living out that throne-room transition isn't any easier today than it was in 1978.

To say that Jesus is Lord is to renounce our natural instincts, several philosophical systems, and the constantly reinforced message of the culture, which upholds the primacy of the self and the supposed need to organize my life around advancing my interests. When I remind myself in prayer at the beginning of a day that Jesus is Lord, I am challenged to dethrone the All-Important Self, just as I was taught long ago.

Mentors and authors have helped to sharpen my understanding of Christ's lordship. They've warned me about idols that threaten to replace him. Jesus Christ is Lord, so mammon cannot be. Jesus Christ is Lord, so relationships and pleasure cannot be. Neither can fame or power or education or career or success or, well, anything at all.

Affirming Jesus as Lord relativizes all earthly attractions, pleasures, and goods. They all come a distant second to Christ himself. That's why we can hardly be reminded too frequently of the implications of his lordship.

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Do Likewise
David P. Gushee serves as Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, where he also chairs the Mercer Lyceum initiative on rebuilding democracy. His column ran from 2005 to 2007.
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January 2007

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