The Story of Two Kingdoms Series
The Kingdom and Lordship of Christ
“Temptation usually comes through a door that’s been deliberately left open.”
Scottish Theologian Arnold Glasgow (1905 – 1998)
*John came up to me after a Sunday morning church service and asked if I remembered him.
“Of course,” I said, “I worked for your dad one summer.”
“Dad’s got late stage cancer and I’m running the company now,” he said.
“So sorry to hear that.” I replied, “How can I pray for and help you?”
“Can we meet? I’m struggling and I understand that you work with men and couples in difficult relationships.”
“We sure can.” I looked at my calendar and we found a time to meet.
Then I asked, “How can I pray specifically for you?”
He shared, “My first marriage is over and I’m losing my two children as well. I can’t let that happen and I need help.”
That exchange led to one year of weekly mentoring and discipleship. John explained that he’d chosen his own lifestyle in his first marriage. While he provided well for his first wife and children, he didn’t like that he had to be home when she wanted him to be. He wanted to do what he wanted to do.
John’s passions and desires were not unlike those of many young married men with two little children in the house. He wasn’t getting enough attention (read sex) so he found it wherever he could—bars, strip clubs, business trips, etc.
His wife had had enough and filed for divorce. It went from bad to worse as John continued to seek his own desires in all the same wrong places, and now it was getting ready to cost him his children.
That’s where The Lord began to get his attention, but old habits die hard, especially the ones that bring us the most and immediate reward. Sexual sin is one of the easiest to fall into and by far the most difficult to conquer and get out of.
He knew The Lord but had decided, like so many others, that he was doing fine as he continued to live as he desired, show up at church, give a little money, and convince himself that all was well. After all, the reason we had connected was because he was dating a lady that went to our church and that was going pretty well.
About four months into our weekly discipleship we found ourselves in a deep conversation about lust, pornography, and sexual sin. He abruptly got up from the table at our usual restaurant meeting place and told me he’d explain the next week in person. He didn’t want to share it over phone or email.
I wished him well and prayed for him as he hurried out the door. The following Thursday he came bounding into the restaurant with a big smile on his face and plopped down in our booth. He proceeded to tell me why he had so quickly left the week before, a story you’ll read later in this series.
John was living much the same way as many others in our day and culture. Even if they attend church, it’s usually not so much to know Jesus but to interact and mingle, assuage their conscience, and/or keep up appearances. Or maybe it’s because their girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, even their extramarital “partner” goes to church and that’s their motivation. However, their lives do not reflect that Christ is Lord. They may be at church, but they are still looking in all the wrong places because their hearts do not fully belong to Him.
The fictitious Father Smith sums up how many live their lives apart from God unknowingly seeking Him, “The man who rings the bell at the brothel, unconsciously does so seeking God.” (Bruce Marshall, The World, The Flesh and Father Smith.)
We could substitute various options for “brothel,” and many of them are nice compromises that we’ve justified and condoned in place of Christ as Lord. We fill the emptiness with drugs, drink, food, sex, marriage, spouse, children, family, on and on—even “church.” Many of these only destroy lives and several are very noble and worthy, but none should supersede Christ in our lives.
Augustine said it this way: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Christ as Lord
In the previous chapter we discussed and determined that God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Authority and as such we need to look to Him, in particular to Christ, as The Father has placed all Authority in His hands.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” – Matthew 28:18
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.’” – John 17:1-2
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” – John 13:3
As we’ve already established, our natural selfish desires with regard to authority always incline us toward demanding respect, control, attention, and results. Jesus contrasted this with Godly Authority in every way – being last instead of first, serving instead of being served, placing others above self.
As John’s story tells us, and we can all relate, old habits die hard. It is difficult to let go of control, especially once we’ve gotten it and made it work for us. But that literally means we are playing “lord” in our lives rather than submitting to Christ.
So, what’s the big deal, you say? I’m a good person, attend church, don’t kill or abuse animals and help needy people every once in a while.
That’s nice, but you do see that you’re justifying “lordship” of your own life against the standards of the world, all while feigning Christ as Lord?
What does Jesus say it means for Him to have authority and to be Lord of our lives? Let me give you a visual that helps explain this idea, and also will help us recognize when we are deceiving ourselves when it comes to who is truly Lord/lord of our life.
Whenever someone asks to come see me about what’s going on in their life—marriage and family or otherwise—I don’t begin by saying, “Tell me about your problems or struggles.” I begin with the following chart and concept to begin to find out where their heart is…
Lordship –> Discipleship –> Relationship –> Sin/Problems/Issues
I then follow up with this statement that sums up the initial step toward a solution to every person’s or couples’ problems: “All of the issues we will discuss today stem from the first two, but so often we only deal with the symptoms that occur in the latter two.”
Lordship is of Utmost Importance
For many, the root issues become apparent right away. Yet often, as with John in our story above, we have to dig deeper to find what is really being fed or protected before the person will truly admit that they are trying to run their own life. As we will see, the enemy’s greatest deception is, “You can be captain of your own ship, master of your own fate; you don’t need a lord.” He’s simply appealing to our natural desire to be in authority, in control.
At this point I will ask the question, “How’s that been working for you?”
Usually the light begins to flicker and maybe even come on. Now we can talk about why it is of utmost importance that Christ is Lord of our lives and the evidence, no matter how much we want to think otherwise, is that we have not made Him so.
Another of Satan’s greatest deceptions is that in luring us away from The Author he can now get us to define key words and concepts according to our whims and desires rather than according to God’s Truth. We’ll unpack the story of sin and the fall a bit later in this chapter to show you how the enemy lures and deceives us.
We alluded to this in Chapter 1, but we must take it further. I’m going to do so with perhaps the most misused and misunderstood word in all of language, especially in today’s culture.
Dr. Gary Chapman, author of Five Love Languages, states, “Love is the most important word in the English language—and the most confusing.”
I agree that it is the most confusing word, generally because we have defined it outside of God’s Word and Authority as feelings or emotion-based and that is dangerous (more on this later in this series). I don’t agree that it is the most important word in our language, but the fact that we so often attribute it as such creates much confusion and many problems. We have chosen to relatively redefine terms, again falling for Satan’s deception to lure us from God’s Authority and Truth.
Whenever I ask couples or conference attendees to define “love,” we have nearly as many definitions as we do people. Why is that? Because we’ve fallen for the lie that “love” is whatever we want it to be in making us feel good and fulfilled. It’s all rooted in feelings and satisfaction.
As they said at NASA, “Houston, we have a problem!”
To be continued…
*All names anonymous to protect privacy.
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What comes to mind when you think of the concept of “kingdom?” How has the idea of being a part of a kingdom affected your thinking and life (positively or negatively)? What does it mean to be a member of a kingdom…subject to a king or lord?
Love and Lordship…Action Item – In your daily quiet time begin to meditate on God’s Word as coming from a King or Lord that you have chosen to willingly submit to. Journal how this translates in your thinking and in your actions.