Getting Personal

“Do you want to make Jesus the personal Lord of your life?”

I’ve heard this question – or variations on it – asked numerous times; usually right before someone is baptized. It reflects an appropriate sentiment – it seeks to make sure that people are really serious about Jesus before they are baptized. But two things about this formulation trouble me:

1. Do we make Jesus Lord? I don’t think so. I think it is more accurate to say that God has made Jesus Lord. The question is whether we are going to recognize that. By saying that “Jesus is Lord,” I don’t make it so (thats a little arrogant, when you think about it). I simply confess what has really been the case all along.

2. Why “personal”? I think this represents a reaction by some Christians to cultures where people assume Christianity based on what they have inherited from others, rather than taking ownership of their faith walk themselves. You aren’t a Christian simply because your family or nation assumes the moniker of “Christian” – it must be “personal.” Its a good point.

But adding this word before “Lord” may also do some violence to the concept of Lordship. Jesus is so much more than ANY ONE PERSON’S Lord. He is Lord over all of creation. To say he is a “personal” Lord implies that salvation is only for and about ME. Its not. God has much business to do with the entire cosmos, and the confession of Jesus’ authority over everything has broader implications in terms of the faith walk that follows such a confession.

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