Hallowing in our Hearts (and in the way we live each day) Jesus as Lord1
We left off last time with Debbie wondering precisely what it means for her to “honor Christ as Lord,” or to “treat as holy the fact that Christ is Lord.” Life isn’t easy for her in the office. Everyone seems to conspire against her and to make her life as a Christian as miserable as they can. What is she to do? Peter says she should “honor Christ as holy.” But what does that mean? Continue reading . . .
We left off last time with Debbie wondering precisely what it means for her to “honor Christ as Lord,” or to “treat as holy the fact that Christ is Lord.” Life isn’t easy for her in the office. Everyone seems to conspire against her and to make her life as a Christian as miserable as they can. What is she to do? Peter says she should “honor Christ as holy.” But what does that mean?
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17).
To honor Christ as Lord means really and truly and honestly to believe that Christ alone is indeed Lord and your enemies aren’t! It means to sincerely embrace Christ alone as Lord and not your employer or anyone else no matter how much power and authority they may wield.
The ESV has provided us with an interesting translation of what is, in the original Greek text, only one word. They render this word, “honor . . . as holy.” The word is actually the same verb that Jesus used in the Lord’s Prayer when he exhorted his disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” It’s that word “hallowed.”
This is the word that is also used throughout the NT in the sense of “to sanctify”. It is occasionally translated, “set apart” or “consecrate” or “treat as holy.” All of these are perfectly appropriate.
So what is Peter telling Debbie to do when he commands her to “hallow” Christ as Lord or to “set apart” in her heart Christ as Lord or to “honor as holy” Christ as Lord? What is he telling US to do?
In one sense he is telling all of us who embrace Jesus as Savior to regard him as utterly unique in all the universe. It means to elevate and exalt him in our minds and our hearts and in our daily experience as altogether different. It means to live life knowing that he is one of a kind, in a class all by himself. It means to breathe and to speak and to make choices always conscious of the fact that in him we live and move and have our being.
It means to get up in the morning and live throughout the day and to go to bed at night always and ever conscious of the fact that he has no peers or rivals or competitors when it comes to power and glory and strength and holiness and knowledge and goodness.
It means to make choices throughout the day based on the undeniable fact that he is more precious than anything we can purchase; that he is more valuable than anything we can own; that he is to be cherished above all lovers and loves.
It means to interact with friends and co-workers and family members and neighbors with the conscious conviction that he is of infinite worth and the greatest treasure and the most prized possession that any soul can obtain.
It means to let your unbridled admiration for his sovereign lordship shine through. Stand in awe of his lordship over the universe. Bow before his sovereign rule. Tremble with joy and gladness at the majesty of the Lord.
Let the reality of his supremacy take a dominant position in your thinking and feeling.
Concentrate often on the centrality of Christ for all of life.
Elevate Christ in your mind and heart so that who he is affects everything you do and what he says changes everything you believe.
Give Jesus preeminence in all things.
Acknowledge him alone as Lord over all.
Celebrate his sovereign rule over nature and nations and human beings and angels.
Consciously fix your thoughts on the fact that Christ is over all, that everything exists for him, and that everything exists through him.
Strive to make everything in your life reflect his greatness.
Live in such a way that when people see you or listen to you they will instantly be made aware that Jesus is truly Lord.
Honor him. Reverence him. Hold him high. Put his opinion of you above the opinions men may have. Trust in him and his promises and not in others or their empty claims. Let your hope be in him alone and live in such a way that others can see that it is so.
Whatever else you do, never, ever treat Christ as common. Never think of him as just another man. Never, ever respond to him as if he were simply one of many in history who has claimed to be God.
Peter’s point is that this truth ought to echo loudly in our hearts. This glorious reality concerning Jesus ought to reverberate in our minds. Take whatever steps necessary, says Peter, to see that when you think of Christ as Lord it has a bone-shattering, breath-taking, awe-inspiring, mind-bending effect on you. Labor to insure that it never becomes a mundane truth or one that you simply take for granted. Don’t become presumptuous or indifferent toward it.
Christ alone is Lord! Not Buddha. Christ alone is Lord. Not Mohammad. Not Washington or Lincoln or Kennedy or Bush or Obama. Christ alone is Lord! No one in history is his rival. No one can compare. No one can compete.
Should you ever find yourself thinking casually of Christ, stop and repent! Should you ever discover that he has slipped a notch or two in your estimation, stop and repent! Should you ever feel diminished amazement or anything less than all-consuming wonder at who he is, stop and repent!
And it isn’t just the idea of Christ Jesus that is to reign in your heart, it is Christ as Lord! As sovereign, king, ruler, and leader. It is Christ in his capacity as the one from whom all things have proceeded and through whom all things continue to exist and for whom all things exist and to whom all glory must be given.
It is Christ as Lord over your life: your body, your mind, your soul, affections, time, gifts, money, talents, family, future, eternal destiny . . .
It is Christ as Lord over sub-atomic particles like atoms and quarks and protons and neutrons . . .
It is Christ as Lord over the birds of the air and the beasts of the field and the fish of the sea . . .
It is Christ as Lord over all angelic beings, whether holy or demonic . . .
It is Christ as Lord over all of humanity, over rulers and peasants and kings and princes and men and women of every color and race and size and significance . . .
It is Christ as Lord over the heavens above, over galaxies and neutron stars and super novae and comets and stars and everything that exists.
When you get up in the morning, is this how you think of him? Is this how you begin your day? Is this what falls freely from your lips when his name is mentioned at lunch with a co-worker or an unsaved friend?
And note that it is in our “hearts” where this hallowing of Christ as Lord is to occur, where this honoring of Christ as holy is to find its expression. Not just in our minds, but surely there. Not just in our affections, but surely there. Not just in our wills, but surely there. Not just in our statement of faith, but surely there. Not just in our deeds, but surely there. Yes, in all these places and in all these ways, which is to say in our “hearts,” that is, in and at the center and core of the totality of our being.
And all this, says Peter, is the alternative to being afraid of other humans and what they say and what they can do.
In other words, sanctifying or hallowing or honoring Jesus as Lord is what you do instead of being afraid of other people.
When you live in such a way and speak in such a way that other people see that your hope and confidence is in Christ and not in the stuff of this world, he is honored, he is magnified, his name is exalted.
Christ is honored and elevated when he is seen as the focus of our hope rather than the praise of people. When we give honor to Christ rather than seeking it from men, Christ is hallowed. When others see that we refuse to trust in money or promotions or earthly perks and props but instead trust in Christ for our present and our future, he is exalted, he is magnified.
Where is your hope? Is your hope for people to start treating you better? Is your hope that your financial woes will disappear? Is your hope that others will recognize your efforts and reward you accordingly? Is your hope in the government and all its efforts to turn around the economy? Is your hope in a 401(k)? Is your hope in continued good health? Is your hope in the faithfulness of other people?
If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, then Christ will not be honored or sanctified or hallowed as Lord in your life. He is honored as Lord only to the extent that he alone is your hope, that his promises are the anchor of your soul, that his love is your insurance against all devastation and tragedy.
To the extent that you live in fear of other people you are not honoring Christ as Lord.
To what extent is your hope in you? I know that sounds calloused and obscene, but many of you have placed your hope in your own skills, in your own cleverness, in your own will power to get done what needs to be done, in your creativity and ingenuity, in your own gifts, abilities, personality, money-making power, charisma, etc.
To whatever extent that is the case, Christ is not honored as Lord.
Now we can see the connection between fearlessness and honoring Christ as Lord. Peter says (vv. 14b–15a), “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but [rather] in your hearts honor Christ as Lord.” Fearlessness honors Christ as Lord because it shows that our hope is unshakable. Fearlessness is a declaration to others that our hope is real. And since Christ is the ground and the goal of our hope, fearlessness honors him, sanctifies him, hallows him, shows his unique worth and strength in our lives.
To sum up in the words of John Piper (to whom I’m greatly indebted for much in this article): Christ is hallowed in our hearts when our hearts are hopeful in him.
By the way, isn’t it amazing and reassuring to know that unlike all other religions and philosophies in the world, Christianity is unique in that God is glorified not primarily by what we do for him but by putting our hope in what he does for us?
Jesus is honored as Lord not so much by us serving him but by our posturing our lives in such a way that he is revealed as the one who lovingly and graciously serves us! That is why Peter puts Jesus at the center of our faith. He is exalted when he is trusted. He is honored when he is hoped in. He is praised when he is prized.
There are two final points that need to be made. They relate to what we are to do and how we are to do it. We’ll take up both points in the next article.