Today we continue with our overview of the final two chapters of Tom Wright’s Simply Jesus (full review here).
What does the lordship of Jesus look like in practice in the world where we bail out the big banks when they suddenly run out of cash, but don’t lift a finger to help the poorest of the poor who are paying the banks interest so the banks can get rich again?
Most Christians in today’s world have not even begun to think how calling Jesus ‘Lord’ might affect the real world.
— Tom Wright, Simply Jesus
Well, this is a tough one.
I have a hard enough time thinking about how calling Jesus “lord” might affect the very small real world of my household and family. I’m happy to call him “lord” on Sundays and when I pray or read the Bible in my private devotions. But when it comes to changing my behaviour, curbing my impatience or my temper, being generous with my time and money… suddenly, Jesus’ lordship is something I’d rather keep in the spiritual realm, thank you very much.
The challenge, of course, is that there’s no authentic and honest way to read the New Testament without coming to the conclusion that how we live is much more important to God than what we say we believe. If you’re in the slightest doubt about that, go and read Jesus’ words in John 14:15 and the whole of 1 Corinthians 13 (or you could read my remix here).
So, the prayer “Let your kingdom come” is not first and foremost a prayer for communities or nations to adopt a certain doctrinal creed; it’s a prayer for the world to become a place where people stop acting out of selfish desire and ambition and begin to embody the other-centred love that was fleshed out for us by Jesus. And before I start showing others how their behaviour needs to change, I should get my own house in order first. That ought to keep me busy for a while…
But Tom is alluding here to the implications of Jesus’ lordship for society as a whole, and this is where it gets even more difficult. When I have such a hard time living a godly life as an individual, how can I possibly begin to deal with societal injustice on the level of bank bailouts, structural poverty or sex trafficking?