From the Editor’s Pen
t wasn’t easy to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the early years of Christianity. Even among the slaves—and many Christians were slaves—anyone who confessed Jesus was subject to abuse and scorn.
An inscription that has come to light shows a slave kneeling before a cross. On it is the figure of a man with the head of a donkey. Underneath are words that mock the slave’s faith: “Alexamenos adores his lord.”
In those days, calling Jesus “Lord” took courage. It even brought risks, because the emperors of Rome demanded not only respect but also worship as divine beings.
Christians, however, bowed to only one Lord—Jesus Christ. They refused to accept any other claim, not even by the emperor. And for many that refusal meant being thrown to the wild beasts or burned at the stake.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” wrote the apostle Paul (Rom. 10:9, NIV). Thus, the earliest baptismal confession was probably: “I believe that Jesus is Lord.”
It still costs to call Jesus our Lord, if we really mean it. When Jesus is Lord, He is our master, the boss. He gives us our marching orders. He sets the agenda. It’s no longer what we want, but what He tells us to do.
More than 2 billion people in our world call themselves Christians. While only God can read their hearts, the lives of a great many so-called followers of Jesus aren’t one bit different from the lives of those who don’t claim to be Christians. In fact, a big obstacle to the spread of Christianity is the bad things done by those who are Christians in name only.
In these last days the world needs to see living demonstrations of what it means to follow Jesus. It is waiting for people who are loving and compassionate; who are pure and honest; whose word can be trusted; who love Jesus more than life itself.
People for whom Jesus is truly Lord.
—William G. Johnsson