Thank you for joining us on line here with the Orlando Church of Christ. Our theme for twenty twenty one is the word one, but it’s more than just a word. It’s a concept we watched over the last year, just evidence of how divided we are as a nation in the world. And our desire in church is to show the world an example of true unity, of oneness. And of course, that that seems impossible.
And it is without the spirit, without the holy scriptures and without lordship of Christ in our life. And so we begin to unpack this theme of oneness throughout this year. And our text has been Ephesians chapter four, verse four. So in January, we spent time talking about the one body. In February, we talked about the one spirit. In March, we talked about the one hope that we all have. And now in April, we’re discussing the idea of lordship one lord.
And lordship as we’re going to unpack today is a paradox. What is a paradox? You know, the definition of that? A paradox is a self contradictory statement that is actually true when you break it down, and I don’t think anything describes Lordship better than the word paradox because there’s so much about Lordship that is self-contradictory. Until you actually do it, until you apply it, until you make Jesus Lord, then you discover this is actually true. And I’ll show you an example from Jesus in Matthew 11 versus twenty nine thru thirty.
Jesus tells his followers to take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Well, Christianity, if done right, if done under the Lordship of Christ, should be easy. It should be a lifting of our burden. But the word that Jesus uses here zugos in the Greek is is a yoke. And that’s the idea of placing a heavy binding burden like the yoke on the neck of an oxen right on the bullocks of your neck.
So if you take on the yoke of Christ, it means he is leading you. He is steering you, you are adding a burden to your life.
That seems like a paradox. That seems to be contradictory. What is it? Is Christianity a heavy burden that no one can carry? Or is Christianity, as Jesus described it, easy, light, gentle, humble and providing rest for your souls? Well, that’s a paradox. But if done right, we discover through the lordship of Christ that that’s a true statement. You know, let’s talk about another paradox of lordship in first Corinthians seven twenty two, the King James reads, he that is called in the Lord, being a servant is the Lord’s free man. Likewise, he that is called being free is Christ’s servant. You see the paradox there. And this is really Paul describing to the church in Corinth that whatever position you were in when you were called, it really doesn’t matter. But lordship’s going to require you to move. Meaning if you’re a free man when God calls you, well, now you are Christ’s servant. But if you were a slave, if you were a bond servant, if you were owned by somebody, Paul says that doesn’t matter.
You now have been set free by Christ and he says don’t seek to run away or remove that burden. He says if you can gain your freedom, certainly do so.
But nevertheless, Christ has liberated you. And so really, the call of lordship requires us to move from whatever position we are in. If we are free and wealthy, able to do a lot when we become a Christian, we actually find our freedoms perhaps limited. We become now a servant of Christ. We’re no longer free to call the shots because we submit ourselves to Christ. Of course, if we are bound up and chained up, then when Christ calls us, it’s a very liberating feeling.
And I see this happening all over our world. When you see a missionary journey to let’s call it. I remember as I was a young Christian, we began to plant a series of churches in countries like Russia and in the Philippines, and we watched really explosive growth. We watched so many people becoming Christians in places where maybe they were being liberated by the gospel for the first time in their lives. They felt a lightening of their yoke, a heavy yoke was upon them, and in Christ really carried that yoke for them.
And they took on the lordship of Christ. And it’s a very liberating feeling. And so many people became Christians. Well, you send that same mission team to the Hamptons, right up in the Northeast or or Longboat Key, that one of the richest counties here in Florida, I don’t know that you’re going to find thousands of people turning themselves in, submitting themselves to the yoke or the lordship of Christ and taking on that burden. Why? Because it’s a trading in of freedom it’s a it’s a limitation to take on the lordship of Christ.
And in fact, the word that Paul used here is Doulos in Greek. It is somebody who belongs to another a bond slave without any ownership rights of their own. And then as the definition continues Doulos Bond slave is used here in the New Testament of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as his devoted followers. So whether slave or free, we become Christ’s slave or bond servant, we give up ownership rights to him when we confess Jesus is Lord. And you see even further, Paul, in First Corinthians nine, verse 19, says, Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave again, using the verb form of Doulos or doulo in the Greek to everyone to win as many as possible.
So what Paul is saying here is I’m trying to help people become Christians, and though I am a free man, though Christ has set me free, I willingly am taking on Lordship, I willingly am putting on this yoke so that I can help other people. I can win as many as possible. And so what Paul says is I became all things to all men. If some groups of people are free to eat whatever they want, OK, then I’m free to eat whatever.
If some have restrictions and are eating kosher and are doing things out of a matter of conscience. Paul says you know what? I’m willing to limit my freedom to try to help these people and not become a stumbling block to that. Paul truly understood the Lordship of Christ and this desire to number one be set free, but then to willingly make yourself a bond servant based on the lordship of Christ.
In the early church, of course, we had two very diverse groups of people. We had the Jews who were becoming Christians with centuries full of knowledge of scripture and God’s covenant and Jehovah or Yahweh and his covenant with his people. So we had those people becoming Christians and entering into the church, and then we had Greeks and Romans and those from a much different or pagan background becoming part of the church as well.
And, you know, you almost today that the vernacular we sometimes uses is conservative or liberal or traditional versus progressive. And we see that even today within Christianity, it may not fall on Jew and Gentile lines, but we certainly see those who perhaps have been Christians for a long time or from a generation that is more traditional or conservative, viewing the scriptures and God’s call and lordship in one manner, whereas a younger generation is coming in and viewing the gospel in a very different view.
The good thing about Lordship is wherever you are, Lordship is not going to meet you at that location. Lordship is requiring you to move. Lordship is going to require you to change. Lordship is going to require you to lay down something that you hold dear because of your knowledge of Christ and a willingness to submit to the lordship of Christ.
And here’s what I mean. Paul addresses what we might call the conservatives, the Jews, those who were holding on to centuries worth of tradition in the book of Galatians in Galatians two four, he says this matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us what, slaves. So Paul, again, is talking about this paradox of freedom versus slavery.
And he’s saying that those who came into the church, they were set free. In fact, Galatians five one, he says it’s for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and don’t let yourself be burdened again by a yoke. We’ve talking and now about another yoke, a yoke of slavery. And so Paul is discussing some of the traditional or conservative Jews had come into the church in the Asian region to begin to bind on them practices from their tradition, like circumcision.
And Paul is saying, no, we are set free. We have been made free. The gentile believers should not be bound by the same traditions that the Jews were bringing into the church. And and so for those who were under the law, lordship required them to move. Lordship required them to respect the freedom that the Gentiles had as they became Christians and the grace that Christ gave to them to graft them into the church. And I think that honestly, railing against conservative and traditional values is kind of part of it.
It’s become commonplace right now, today in our culture. But let’s not let the progressives and the liberals off and give them a free pass. So stay with me here because I’m not getting political. But what I am addressing is lordship of Christ and the paradoxical nature of lordship that wherever you come in, you’re going to bring your slant, you’re going to bring your viewpoint, and lordship is going to require you to expand. It’s going to require you to move.
If you come in free, it’s going to require you to become the Lord’s bond servant. If you come in a slave, it’s going to set you free. In first Peter, Peter now is addressing a very different group of people. He’s not addressing the traditional or conservative Jews that are in the church. Peter is addressing the progressives or the Gnostics. And so in first Peter, chapter two, verse six, peter says, Live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a cover up for evil. Live as God’s slaves. And in second, Peter continues to address this group of people saying that they promise freedom while they themselves are slaves to depravity, for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them. And so, again, both Paul and Peter are using this idea of slavery and freedom to address the different groups that are coming into the church. And this would be those with a much more progressive freedom in Christ based view. That’s who Peter is addressing.
He’s living he’s addressing people that are bringing in a creeping level of sin and tolerance of sin into the church, those from a Greek and Roman background who began to develop a philosophy of Gnosticism, where they really minimized the sins of the flesh, like sexual immorality, sexual immorality. They would cheapen the grace of God and use it as a license for a libertine philosophy of the Greek and Roman culture and culture began to seep into the church. And that’s what we face today constantly.
We always see a normalization and an acceptance of grievous sins in our culture, whether that is pornography or homosexuality or gender dysphoria or greed or materialism or racism or cancel culture.
We see all those things beginning to creep into the church under the guise of progressive Christianity. And I think after time, rather than calling people to change or repent, some really want the church to accept or tolerate a certain level of sin in our culture, lest we be conservative and judgmental. And so we grow tired of confronting sin. And the opposite of Lordship, keep in mind, is not atheism, right? The opposite of making Jesus Lord is not to dismiss Jesus is Lord and be an atheist, it is progressive Christianity, it’s a version of godliness that denies it’s power, it’s a version of Christianity that Jesus, that paints Jesus as someone who just hung out with and loved a bunch of sinners and outcasts and the marginalized in our world. And he affirmed them. And it’s a promise of freedom without truly releasing people from slavery to sin. And so let’s look at some examples of this. Jesus healed a man at the pool and it says later in John five, Jesus found him at the temple and said, see you’re well again, stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.
And the man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who made him. Well, he didn’t even know who Jesus was, but Jesus found him after he had healed him.
Now, again, you could say this is Jesus affirming the marginalized, someone who was placed by a pool and just forgotten about. Someone who was handicapped, who was suffering much of his life. Jesus heals the man. And yet the man went on to Jesus, found him and challenged him on his sin and saying, hey, it’s physical suffering is bad, but eternal life is something he needed to be concerned about. And his sin would have separated him from God.
Jesus challenged him on sin. So again, the progressive wants to say this is Jesus affirming an invalid man. And yet Jesus also challenged him on sin. We think of the woman who was caught in adultery and certainly Jesus deals with the traditional or the conservatives and those who were picked up stones to stone the woman. And Jesus says whoever is without sin can cast the first stone. We know this story. But at the end of the story is everybody leaves Jesus and this woman have a confrontation of their own.
Jesus straightened up and asked the woman, where are they? As no one condemned you? Well, no one sir she said. Then neither do I condemn you, jesus declared, go now and leave your life of sin.
So, you know, Jesus rightly dealt with those who were accusing the woman, the self-righteous in the crowd, and they began to drop their rocks and leave. But that’s where progressive Christianity stops. The story to the progressive Christian is all about Jesus compassion for women, lifting her up, protecting her against her accusers. Progressive Christianity minimizes her sin of adultery and focuses on the sin of judgmentalism or lack of tolerance. Progressivism asks, Hey, where’s the guy in this story?
He was committing adultery as well. Well, I agree with that. According to the law, he should be stoned to death as well. But Lordship causes us to take a different path through this story. You know Lordship remembers that the law that required this woman to be stoned to death publicly was actually written in the Old Testament by God, and you know who Jesus was, Jesus was the word of God in the flesh. So Jesus own law condemned this woman to be stoned to death publicly. That’s in the Bible, that’s in the Old Testament, we can’t minimize that, we can’t get around that. When I see stories today in very strict Islamic countries where a woman is taken out and stoned because of promiscuity. Do you think that’s so disturbing?
That’s so backwards. That’s so out of touch with reality. And yet we’ve got to remember, that’s also in the scripture, that’s also in the Old Testament. But obviously, Jesus embodies something very gracious and very different. And so Jesus says, well, I’m not condemning you, but what is he also do? He declares to her that you have to repent. You have to leave your life of sin. And again, I think we’ve got to make sure that progressive Christianity doesn’t seep into the church.
That ignores the fact that this woman was a slave to sin and that Christ finally not just offered her dignity, but also freedom from a life filled with empty relationships. That’s much like the woman at the well. Again progressive Christianity tells us why it’s so earth shattering that Jesus would speak with a woman and even the disciples who were probably much more conservative wondered why he was speaking with the woman at the well, where does that story end again with Jesus challenging her, that you are in sin.
You have had five relationships, five marriages, and the one you are now living with in an immoral way is not your husband. So, again, until you deal with sin, Lordship requires us not just to affirm, not just to lift up the marginalized, but also to command true repentance and lordship so that people don’t remain slaves to sin, but go all the way to make Jesus Lord and be released from that bondage of sin. Truly, progressivism promises freedom while they themselves are slaves to depravity.
So I say all this to say Lordship is a paradox. Wherever you sit on these issues philosophically, guess what? Lordship is going to require you to move, right? If you’re judgmental, traditional conservative lordship is going to require of you mercy, gentleness, patience, love and understanding.
If you are all about the marginalized and and and the poor and lordship is going to make you uncomfortable because it’s going to require you to deal with sin and call people to repentance. Let’s look at another example of two rich people, because let’s talk not about the sin of adultery or immorality, but the sin of greed, materialism.
We see in Luke eighteen, twenty three thru twenty four, the story of the rich young ruler who was a great guy who would obey the commands of God since he was a child. But when Jesus challenged him to give up everything and follow him, he went away sad, and Jesus looked at him and said how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. That’s in Luke Chapter 18 versus twenty three to twenty four, the very next chapter in Luke 19 after Jesus tells people it’s basically easier for the camel to go through an eye of a needle than for anyone who’s rich to enter the kingdom of God, it’s it’s basically impossible for people like this to be saved, well, then the impossible happens.
Zacchaeus comes to an understanding of Lordship, and Zacchaeus says to who Jesus, and he calls him Lord, Look Lord here and now I give half my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I’ll pay back four times the amount. Jesus said to him today, salvation has come to this house. These were two similar people, very wealthy. Yet one viewed the yoke of Christ too heavy a burden. Why? Because he was a slave to his wealth. So he left sad and burdened with wealth. Zacchaeus On the other hand, Jesus never challenged him once on his wealth or his dishonesty. He didn’t have to Zacchaeus beat Jesus to the punch.
He was a slave to his wealth and his dishonesty, but he then became a free man. Does Zacchaeus seem burdened by giving up half his possessions or making a commitment to go back to everyone he cheated and paying them back four times the amount? He doesn’t seem burdened at all. You get the sense that he’s looking forward to it. He’s looking forward to catching up with this guy and say, you know what, I was dishonest with you. I collected one hundred denari more than I was supposed to. Here’s four hundred denari. I’m paying you back four times the amount. And Zacchaeus probably had these people in mind what he said this.
And so he had appointment after appointment after appointment to get to, but he probably couldn’t wait to get to these appointments. Why? Because he went from being a slave to a free man. In my personal journey, I grew up in a church. It was the Disciples of Christ denomination. And we were taught so much about God’s grace. There is nothing you can do to earn God’s love in his favor and his grace. Which is true. Right.
But but we were really never taught anything about the Lordship of Christ. So for me, I became two very different people living in one body. I became a paradox in and of myself. And I shared this before to many of you here in the church, there was the church version of Marshall that I put on when I went to church. When I went to youth group, when I went into our teen ministry, I knew how to play Church Marshall and I knew what was required of Church Marshall.
I knew how to clean up my language and clean up my act a little bit. Right. But then there was also not at church Marshall, which existed almost all the time, all day, every day, except Sunday mornings and Wednesday night when I went to youth group and not church Marshall was a total slave to sin. So then I became a true disciple at age twenty when I was at college at University of Colorado. And that’s when I truly declared not that I just believed in Jesus, it wasn’t just a confession of faith and who Jesus was as the son of God.
But it was also a confession that Jesus was now Lord of my life. And I was baptized into Christ at that time and I felt very victorious over sin. In some ways, I had become a free man for the first time in areas of my purity, of my language, of my drunkenness, of my cynicism. I felt free from the yoke of sin that enslaved me for many years. But in other ways, I had also become Christ’s slave.
I had to stick with it. My routines had to change the company I kept had to change. Many of my friends and relationships, and the boundaries had to change. I walked away from situations that would provide temptation, right. I had to be cognizant of my sinful nature and not jeopardize this newfound freedom that I had in Christ. As time goes on, I can feel both the yoke of the law, the justifications of the requirements of Christianity, the knowledge of scripture.
I feel that yoke. Sometimes that starts feeling like a heavy yoke. But then I can also feel justification for the freedom I have in Christ and temptation to sin creeping back into my life. So I am convicted both by Paul as he addresses the conservatives, the Jews. I can sometimes be like that. I can rely on the Christian checklist to feel justified before God. But I’m also convicted by peers. He addresses the sin in the church because temptations may leave you alone for a while.
But they do have a way of creeping back in, wanting to enslave us again. Maybe not to the same degree, but to some level of compromise. So wherever I am at any given time, whether it was thirty years ago when I first made Jesus Lord or right now I need to view myself through the lens of lordship. Am I getting too cavalier and casual about my faith? Am I lukewarm or critical or stingy, or have I felt too much freedom from the yoke of Christ?
Maybe I need to become Christ slave again, or am I getting too legalistic, too judgmental of others? Am I super accused about my sin all the time?
Well, maybe I need to become Christ free man of Christ. As we come to a close here, we’re going to take the Lord’s Supper together. Here’s what I want you to think about and maybe discuss with others. The lordship of Christ is going to require you to move. That’s for sure. And sometimes in various ways, sometimes there’s parts of your life that need to be set free, then there’s some times that your freedom is a cover up for evil and and you really need to become Christ’s bond servant or slave in that arena.
And so I want you to think to yourself, in what ways has the lordship of Christ lifted the yoke of slavery and provided you with freedom? Or maybe that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe you are currently enslaved in some way to sin, to fear, to your wealth, to protecting yourself. And you have built this fortress around your heart and mind and you don’t want to let that go. But that’s a heavy burden to carry. Jesus is inviting you to take his yoke upon you because you will find rest for your souls, take that yoke upon you and lift the yoke of slavery.
Be free, be Christ’s free man. In what ways has the Lordship of Christ able to lift the yoke of slavery and provide you with freedom? A bond servant? In what ways does the Lordship of Christ require you to put on the yoke of Christ and to give up your freedom? In what ways have you just been free? Well, this is who I am. This is what I think. This is what I believe, whether it’s philosophically, politically or even religiously about Christ.
In what ways have you just allowed your freedom to cover over areas of your life that are not yet submissive to the lordship of Christ? Think about those ways, and rather than that requires you now to give up some freedom, some ways the lordship of Christ is going to set you free. In some ways, the lordship of Christ is going to require you to give up your freedom. Let’s look at one final paradox as we take the Lord’s Supper.
In Second Corinthians eight nine paul writes this for, you know, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor so that you threw his poverty might become rich.
That’s pretty beautiful, isn’t it? That Jesus for you became poor? Let’s pray as we take the Lord’s Supper together. Father God we thank you so much for Christ.
We thank you so much for sending your son from the wealth and richest of locations in the heavenly realms to come to this earth born in poverty and living in poverty to make others rich. Thank you for the paradox of Lordship that wherever we’re at, we’re required to move. If we’re free, we’re required to become a bond servant of Christ. And if we are a slave to our sins, we are liberated by Christ. Thank you so much for the ways that the slavery that we have to sin is able to be lifted.
Thank you so much for the areas of freedom that we have been set free. We can make ourselves a bond servant to win as many as possible. Father may as many as possible throughout Orlando and throughout this world come to know the yoke of Christ and the easy burden of lordship and service to to Jesus, our Lord.
It’s in his name we pray amen.