“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things I say?” (Luke 6:46)
It’s a fair question. The very word “Lord” means “master, owner,” and implies that one is subservient to Jesus Christ, willing to carry out His slightest command.
“Don’t call me that if you are not going to obey me,” Jesus said. It’s a simple enough request.
The Lord’s question was rhetorical. He was not looking for an answer. He knew the human heart as no one before or after Him. (Of course, there was no one before Jesus and there will be no one after Him. He is the Everlasting One.)
Our Lord needed no one to advise Him on the crooked way people’s minds work, of our tendency to pick and choose the commands we will obey and how we want the rewards before doing the work and paying the price.
“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14).
However, I’d like to venture to pose an answer to His question. Several answers in fact on “Why we call Jesus ‘Lord’ and do not do what He commanded.”
1) Because, Lord (oops–it’s impossible to address Jesus without calling Him that), your way is often hard.
I’m fully aware Scripture says “The way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15), and it is. But a primary reason most people do not step out from the masses and follow Jesus is that doing so sets us against the trends, turns us uphill in a downhill world.
Paul and Barnabas reached the end of what we know as the First Missionary Journey and decided to retrace their steps. “They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:21-22). There it is, plain and simple. Anyone looking for an easy life should keep going; this isn’t it.
Christians are people who have chosen to swim upstream in a downstream world. Theirs is going to be a life of constant struggle.
2) Because–as we just noticed in #1–”Lord” is just a figure of speech to us.
It’s a respectful way of addressing You. We call You that, Jesus, without paying a lot of attention to what it means.
We call preachers “Brother” or “Doctor,” we call people “sir” and “ma’am,” and we call Jesus “Lord.”
We don’t mean anything by it.
3) Because Your will is not always clear enough for our satisfaction.
Your people are at odds as to positions and actions You want us to take on many current issues. Some faithful Christian people believe in President Obama strongly, while some feel he is the worst president in history. Some of your children promote birth control as a means of preventing sexual disease and unwanted pregnancies, and yet some of your people see their work as evil. Some of your disciples wear tattoos and weird hair-dos and nose-rings and ragged jeans to church even, and they are worship leaders! Others believe all of this is an insult to You and demeans worship.
We read in Scripture where You have “predestined us” (Romans 8:29-30) and disagree on it. And because they see Your children disagreeing–often in most unChristian ways, too!–outsiders may conclude Your Truth is unknowable and just another of the world’s cafeteria of religions.
We sometimes become enemies of the very Truth we espouse, Lord.
4) Because we want the benefit of salvation’s blessings without paying the price of discipleship.
We want growth and maturity without self-mastery and the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, meditation, and ministry.
We want sweet Christian fellowship without investing in the life of the church. The church should be there for us without our having to serve in the nursery, bring regular offerings to keep it going, run the vacuum cleaner or the lawn mower, teach a class, or post flyers around town for the coming revival meeting. Harmonious Christian fellowship is simply one of our entitlements.
We are not willing to face up to trouble-makers who keep the fellowship stirred up, who run off pastors they cannot control, and who have their own perverse vision of what the Lord’s church should be. Because of our silence and acquiescence, Your work limps along while Satan celebrates.
We want Heaven without giving up earth.
Rebuke us. Then, forgive us.
5) Because of the unpleasant side effects of obeying You.
On one hand, that would include generous giving, public confessing, forsaking worldly behavior, and constantly striving to conquer our self-centeredness. On the other hand, it might involve prejudice and persecution, hostility from neighbors or co-workers, ridicule, slander in the media, and worse.
Jesus said some who initially follow Him will drop away “when affliction or persecution arises because of the word” (Matthew 13:21).
6) The middle ground is more comfortable.
We want to “get saved” and love Jesus but not actually come in out of the world, not actually speak to others about Jesus, not actually quit some of the more pleasurable aspects of our old lives.
Help us, Lord.
7) Which is to say, we want it both ways.
And Lord, if you are unhappy with this state of affairs–we read Revelation 3:15-16 and see where you are tempted to vomit out the lukewarm–may we say that we are, too.
Fence-straddling is no fun for anyone. Elijah’s admonition to the have-it-both-ways boys on Mount Carmel comes to mind (I Kings 18:21).
In Civil War days, a fellow who could not make up his mind is said to have donned a blue coat of one side and gray trousers of the other side.
He got shot by both sides.
Here are a few things “The Lord” Jesus had to say on this subject….
“No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
“No servant can serve two masters… You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23).
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you DO THEM” (John 13:17).
Amen and amen.