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March 2015

Pastor Points: "Jesus Christ is Lord"

The earliest statement of Christian faith, even before the Apostles’ Creed, was "Jesus Christ is Lord!" There are places in the Middle East where you would face execution if you dared to say, "Jesus Christ is Lord.” Twenty-one Egyptian Christians were beheaded in Libya by extremists. Several of them died whispering, “Jesus is Lord!”

It was equally dangerous for the hearers of the First Letter of Peter to say, "Jesus Christ is Lord.” It had been fifty years since Christ was crucified. First-century believers met in secret. Because they refused to worship the Emperor, they couldn’t attend social gatherings with non-Christians. Roman soldiers searched them out in meetings and forced them to say, "Caesar is Lord."  A man who failed to deny Christ might have to watch the execution of his family. I might have been willing to say, “Caesar is Lord” if my words would rescue my husband and daughter from death.

It’s unlikely that we will be forced to deny Jesus.  But we endure troubled times. When everything is going well, we let our faith move to the back burner. But when times of trial come, we turn to the Lord. No matter how difficult our lives become, the First Letter of Peter contains truths on which we can stand.

When Peter’s First Letter was written, Christians asked why they were being persecuted for following Christ.   We ask the same question: "Why do bad things happen to good people?” Jesus should not have had to suffer. And yet, Jesus died for our sins, once for all!  He took upon Himself the trials of all who chose to follow Him.  Jesus defeated death itself. This was important to the Christians who heard the First Letter of Peter read to them as a sermon. They had witnessed executions of family and friends.  They wondered, "What’s the point of following Christ and trying to live well, if it all comes to this?"

The words in Peter’s letter, "Jesus was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit..." gave them hope. Where can we find hope? The First Letter of Peter reminds us that Jesus took our imperfections upon Himself in order to bring us to God. When life is so painful that we wonder if anything makes sense, the Lordship of Christ is God's "Yes!" for us. Remembering that we belong to Christ is liberating.  No bully, no abusive partner, no disease, and no oppressive government, can define us. “Jesus Christ is Lord!” As we move through this Lenten Season, may these words encourage us!

Pastor Joyce

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