Personal Lord and Savior
I find it interesting that such a common phrase in Christian-speak is found no where in the Bible. It seems as if it would be because of how often it is used. Lord and Savior are used throughout, but the personal has been added. There is nothing inherently wrong with the statement, but it leaves out a key part of what it means to be a child of God: I am a child among many children. Professing faith in Christ is an invitation to a royal family. I understand the phrase’s meaning of the lordship of Christ and the fact that we know him and he knows us. But I believe our understanding of the redemption story must go beyond ourselves so we can see the big picture clearly. If not, the object of faith can become something other than what it should be.
I may be totally wrong in my thinking, I’m still working it out in my mind. I’ve been thinking about it in this analogy:
Suppose an aging, loving father has recently come into a large amount of money and has decided to spread the wealth among his 4 children. He has one million dollars and splits it evenly four ways so that each child receives a quarter of a million dollars. He loves them equally, how could he give more inheritance to one?
The old man sits his children down and tells them the news. They are excited, to say the least. When he explains that each child is getting a quarter of the share, there was some confusion and bitterness.
“Your oldest child does not come around here anymore. How is he worthy?”
“This youngest child is not responsible. How can you give him so great a gift?”
You get the picture. But the father is giving each one an equal share in the inheritance. It is not based on merit nor is it concerned with his favorites (he does not actually have any). No matter how close their relationship, each child received the same share. Surely some are in fact closer to him than the others, but he loves them all the same. Their proximity to the father can not raise their inheritance. This gift is personal in the sense that he has a relationship with each of them and loves them dearly. However it is not only a personal gift because it is given to the group. The monetary gift was not about an individual, it was about a family of individual members. If one child is trying to convince themselves the gift was really given because the father loved them the most, they have formed a strange concept of nepotism that does not seem to align with the wishes of the father.
The gift is personal to each child, but the focus should be on the giver of the gift; not the recipient. This is why I am much more comfortable with the terms Lord and Savior because it describes his Lordship in our lives as well as the salvation he alone provides. God is a relational God, but He is not only relational to me. He is relational to all.
Sometimes it is easy to view salvation as something I possess rather than the new creation I become and the new faith community I join. If I do this, I have effectually made salvation about me, not about God’s grace and mercy. This can be a dangerous road to travel. This is not to say that I don’t personally know Christ, because I do. But I know Christ in the context of all others who know Him as well. The salvation story thankfully includes me, but it is not centered on me. Nor should it be. Any thinking about salvation that is more centered on ourselves rather than God is missing the point.
However, I’m not saying God does not care about us as individuals. He created us and He knows us more than anyone else. He cares about the little details of our lives. Seeing salvation in the big picture gives us an even bigger picture of God. If he knows me this intimately then He knows everyone else on earth in the same way. What an amazing testament of his wisdom, power and sovereignty.