History tells us that early Christians were occasionally called to stand trial. They were told that they would be released if they would simply say, “Caesar is Lord,” and burn incense to the Roman gods. If they refused, then they would be punished.
Consider these two portions of a letter sent from Pliny to Tacitus sometime around 96 AD:
In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have been brought before me as Christians is this: I asked them whether they were Christians; if they admitted it, I repeated the question twice, and threatened them with punishment; if they persisted, I ordered them to be at once punished…
An anonymous information was laid before me containing a charge against several persons, who upon examination denied they were Christians, or had ever been so. They repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered religious rites with wine and incense before your statue (which for that purpose I had ordered to be brought, together with those of the gods), and even reviled the name of Christ: whereas there is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians into any of these compliances: I thought it proper, therefore, to discharge them.
It seems the name of Jesus and submission to him as Lord carried more significance / implications for these early Christians than we typically see in America today. But, what about in other parts of the world?
Almost one year ago, Becky Lynn Black reported the story of a young Ethiopian believer who was shot in the head for speaking the words, “Jesus is Lord.”
But, these stories seem to highlight the differences between the persecuted church and the church in America. It does not cost us anything to say, “Jesus is Lord.” Have we forgotten what this phrase means? Has the lack of ramifications caused the phrase “Jesus is Lord” to become just another slogan or marketing gimmick?
So, I ask you, what does “Jesus is Lord” mean to you personally? What does “Jesus is Lord” mean corporately as you gather with other believers?