Benjamin C. Maxson, Directo0r General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: The Lordship paradigm is the foundation of all true stewardship. Ben Maxson shares with us the understanding that Lordship is more than simple obedience or control. It is based on an intimate relationship with and submission to Christ.

Lordship as foundation

Stewardship is the human side of Lordship. Jesus is Lord and we are His stewards—managing the resources He has placed in our hands. The Lordship paradigm is the foundational concept undergirding all of stewardship. When we accept God as Owner and give Him control, it transforms our entire approach to the way we live each day. Lordship is much more than simple surrender to God. It must be integrated into the very core of our being! Let’s explore this paradigm, seeking to find ways to make it our own life perspective.

The apostle Paul presents Jesus Christ as Lord because of who He is and what He has done (Php 2:5-11). Being God, Jesus chose to empty Himself and become a man. Yet becoming human was not enough. He identified Himself with the essence of humanity, taking the form of a servant and dying our death on Calvary. In doing this, Christ identified Himself with our sin to the extent that He became ?sin for us? (2 Cor 5:21). As a result, God has exalted Jesus, giving Him a name above all other names. And at the end of time, every tongue will declare Him Lord. So the fact that He is Lord is an eternal reality.

Sooner or later every person will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. But it is not enough to say He is Lord. At the end of the millennium, even the wicked will admit Christ is Lord. It must be a confession of relationship with Him if it is to transform our lives.

More than obedience

Too often we see Lordship as simple obedience. ?God says it, we do it.? While contain-ing an element of truth, this approach ultimately leads to failure and discouragement. The power for obedience is often missing. We try to obey only to fail again and again, attempting to do by human force of will what only God can empower.

At other times we understand Lordship to mean the loss of control. Once again, there is an element of truth here. But it must be much more. It is a surrender that leads to an even more powerful life.

Lordship is intimacy with God. It happens as Christ dwells in us and we integrate that relationship into daily life. It is the result of accepting Christ as Savior, Owner, and present within us, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

? As Savior, He forgives and saves us

? As Owner, He controls us

? As present within us, He empowers us

Born for intimacy

Lordship began with creation; Adam and Eve were created for intimacy with God. Adam began life in the cradle of God’s arms, awakened by the kiss of life. Discovering God and his own identity in relationship with God were his first conscious thoughts. As humans we are born with the capacity for, as well as the need of, intimacy with the Almighty. And we will never be at peace, never be satisfied, until we find that union with God for which we were created.

Lordship is the realization of that union for which we were born. In our relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord, we discover a level of intimacy where the core of our heart is transformed by the very presence of God. In giving the promise of ?another Comforter,? Jesus also promised to return to us (Jn 14:18). When the Comforter came, He brought the assurance of His presence: ?On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you? (Jn 14:20). This indwelling presence of Christ is the essential core of the biblical concept of Lordship.

Paul presents the promise ?that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith? (Ep 3:16-17, ESV). Paul concludes that as a result of knowing the height and depth of God’s love, we will be ?filled with all the fullness of God? (Ep 3:15-19). This is the scope of the promised intimacy with God—Christ bringing the fullness of God into our lives.

Restoring the natural order

Lordship is also submission. It is realizing that our sinful nature places us in a natural position of rebellion against God—a position where we will create or be our own god. It is recognizing our innate ?lostness? and accepting our need for a radically different life which is ours only when we die to self. The act of submission to God restores the natural order in which we were created. It allows God to resume His place on the throne of our life. It places us in the right relationship with God from which we can begin an entirely new life. By our submission we connect with God as the source of strength and power for living the daily life.

Christ invites us into a partnership. As He indwells us (Ep 3:16-17), His Lordship empowers our everyday activities. Accepting Him as Owner, we manage His resources with His guidance and power. Therefore, whatever we do is done to God’s honor and glory (1 Cor 10:31). Since it is His business, what is done in the name of that business reflects on Him. We act in the name of the Lord, ?And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him? (Col 3:17, ESV). Everything we do is done serving Him (Col 3:22-24).

A living relationship

While this relationship offers so very much, it also confronts us with far-reaching demands that are in direct contrast to the contemporary Christianity which has been assimilated by the world around us. This Christianity has lost its power, for it has abandoned its source—the indwelling Christ. Instead of debating about issues of obedience or arguing about how to keep the Sabbath, as Lord, Jesus invites us into something much more radical—a life of intimate union with Him. Each part of that life is transformed by His presence.

Lordship means God says it and I do it. This is not because of my effort to obey. Instead it is the fulfillment of God’s promise to work in us ?both to will, and to do? (Php 2:13). He is Lord, and you and I have the privilege of living out this experience in every day life. How? By abiding in Him and allowing Him to abide in us. Thus, lordship moves from a theological expression to a living relationship with the King.

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July–September, 2004

Lordship