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Use the L-word with caution

June 26, 2009

I love talking with atheists and agnostics and fence-sitters about matters of faith because they teach me so much. Or maybe the Holy Spirit uses them to teach me. I’m pretty sure they have no idea what’s going on. Los shared a great example a short while ago ala a barista.

I was hanging out with my brother a week ago at Taco Bell.


I can’t really think of a better afternoon than my brother, Taco Bell, and some spiritual conversation. He was telling me about some obnoxious kid who has entered the perimeter of his social circle recently who calls himself a Christian, but doesn’t really act like one. (Side note: Yes, people, the non-Christians notice when you don’t act like a Christian. And they don’t think it’s cool. They think it’s weird and annoying.)

As Zack was telling me about his conversation with the pseudo-Christian, I was choosing my battles. I think I grabbed about every other incorrect statement he made about my faith and tried to gently correct it. The others I just let slide. I wasn’t about to pick apart the entire conversation. Not the point.

He started to tell me about the pseudo-Christian insisting on his salvation while spewing some sort of I-voted-Jesus-so-now-I-can-do-whatever-I-want thing (which even my non-Christian brother knows is B.S.). I was listening and trying to consider how to address a topic that’s a bit strange even among believers when Holy Spirit plucked two verses out of scripture and put them beside one another in my heart. Oh.

First, there’s Romans. We know this one. It’s the quintessential salvation verse:

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

That’s what pseudo-Christian-boy was leaning on, while ignoring the pieces about taking up his cross and a myriad of others on Christian conduct. This is where it gets sticky a lot of times. Romans 10:9 makes it sound so simple, but the rest of the New Testament seems to demand a bit more. Which is it? The sinner’s prayer or the cross?

The other verse that He placed just beside it – that I saw beside Romans 10:9 for the first time – was Luke 6:46,

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

And this light bulb went on. I’d reasoned context within myself concerning Romans 10:9, but overlooked the word “Lord.” Maybe this is just an extension of Biblical concept that faith without works is dead, but it suddenly made so much sense to me.

It’s not just the sinner’s prayer. It’s not just raise your hand and repeat the prayer on a Sunday morning. Paul did not write, “Flippantly acknowledge that Jesus is cool, and believe it, and you will be saved.” He used the word “Lord” because he understood the word. I don’t think we understand the word when we use it.

Jesus gets it, though. And He seems to assume that if you’re going to acknowledge Him as “Lord,” you’re going to treat Him like it.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 9:37 am

    this is one of my favorite posts of yours ever.
    love this.

  2. June 26, 2009 10:44 am

    Great, great post. That sums up all the people that claim to be Christian but clearly he isn’t the Lord of their lives.

    I think it’s probably a hard concept for us as a society to understand these days. So much value is placed on independence, do we really get what it’s like to be lorded over by anything or anyone? Even kids and teenagers are lorded over by their parents, but ultimately, they will be on their own and free.

    It places a great weight on us to always acknowledge Him as Lord and truly understand what we are saying. I can admit there are areas of my life that I’m slower to turn over to Him than others, and even areas that I keep trying to take back.

  3. Cheryl Rector permalink
    June 26, 2009 10:45 am

    VERY good word. Good job, good post.

    • Lex permalink
      June 26, 2009 11:11 am

      @Brandi and Cheryl – Thanks bunches.

      @Chad – Agreed. It’s strange – to me – to step back sometimes and actually witness the power of a worldview. It’s difficult, in a way, to be a real Christian in a society that so values independence. What a strange thing it is that God gives us freedom, and then waits, hoping we’ll realize that the best thing we can do is give it back.

  4. Jacob Zarris permalink
    June 29, 2009 8:24 am

    Hey Lex, first off nice job Holy Spirit to pull the verses together, and you for hear and responding with telling your brother that. It’s very powerful to see what the word can do to people so that is always encouraging. Furthermore I have to agree with a little annoyed with the whole “salvation prayer verse” (Seeing as the salvation prayer idea is still less than 200 yrs old) Before that people saw salvation in the way that Hebrews talks about it, a willful submission and obedience till the end than the reward of that is eternal life. Hebrews even points out the value of community so much more, telling people to encourage brothers while its still called “today” so that the family (church) won’t fall away.

  5. Lex permalink
    June 29, 2009 1:35 pm

    Jake, have you read the Diaries of David Brainerd? His casual, private writings stirred up that question in me for the first time a couple years ago.

    He was a missionary to the Native Americans in colonial America, and he repeated writes about people whom he believes are almost saved. People would come to him, weeping in repentance and completely humble, and he would write in his diary that he’s not sure if he/she is really saved just yet. Very interesting. Good stuff.

  6. Jacob Zarris permalink
    June 29, 2009 2:14 pm

    It was an amazing book!

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