Saying and Doing
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?!” – Luke 6:42
Note that Jesus did not say: “Why do you do what I tell you but you do not call me Lord!”
Jesus wasn’t a stickler about titles. He was unmoved by flattery. He was more likely to get his tunic in a twist by people who praise him with their lips and repudiate him with their lives than the other way around.
Remember the parable of the sheep and the goats? The sheep, who are the grand prize winners of that parable, had no clue they were serving Jesus by helping “the least of these.”
In other words, it’s entirely possible to follow Jesus and be an unbeliever. It’s also possible to call Jesus “Lord” and really blow it like all the self-professing Christians today who burn crosses, deny equal rights to LGBT folks, resist gun safety measures, spread Islamaphobia or cheer politicians who pedal fear, exclusion, rudeness and bigotry.
And then there’s the log in my own eye. I also confess Jesus with my lips and repudiate him by what I do. And, more often, by what I leave undone. I could elaborate but I am only permitted 300 words for this devotion and you wouldn’t be interested anyway.
I don’t call Jesus “Lord” because he needs an ego boost. I call Jesus “Lord” because I need to drop my ego. It means he is no longer just a good teacher with ideas I can embrace or put aside. When he is also the Lord, I have to pay attention and respond accordingly. And when I do obey, I can’t congratulate myself because it is only by God’s grace that I do God’s will…the same grace that forgives me when I fail.
I don’t always know why I call you “Lord” and do not do what you say, but I’m so grateful you call me “beloved” and always do what you say.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.