Some people have taught that to be a Christian, Jesus only has to be your Savior, not your Lord. I am left wondering, if Jesus is not Lord of those people, then who is? I think experience tells us the answer. If no one else is your Lord, than you are lord of your own life. But affirming that Jesus is Lord is not all that God desires. He wants Jesus to actually exercise Lordship over our lives. Unfortunately, although most Christians deny the false teaching that Jesus does not need to be our Lord, they also fall well short of living as though He is.
What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord? Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth. But this does not mean He only rules in a general sense, holding all things together. He is also Lord of every believer. This personal sense of Lordship can be seen in Colossians 4:1. Here the word for Lord (kurios) is translated, “master,” and it refers to the owner of a slave. Paul tells “masters” to treat their slaves with equity and righteousness because “you also have a Master in heaven.” The term, “master,” was used in the ancient Roman world for the father of a household. The father had rights over his children in some ways similar to that of an owner of slaves. There are examples in the ancient world of fathers ordering the death of an unwanted son, with the order being carried out without question. The master, whether of slaves or sons, has complete authority over his subjects. One who is subject to a master is not in control of his own life. His master is in control. His master decides what he will eat, what work he will engage in, and the subject must simply obey, no questions asked.
Jesus is not only our Lord, He is also our Master. As Master, Jesus has the right to specifically control every aspect of our lives. Not only can He tell us what to eat, but He can tell us not to eat. Not only can He tell us what work we will do for a living; He also has the right to order the end of our lives at any time. He did that with Stephen, as he has with countless other martyrs who died in the prime of their lives simply out of obedience to Jesus. What does this have to do with revival?
When revival happens, God takes over. When backsliders come back to Jesus, they give their lives back to him, lives that were previously in their own control. We are called to walk in the Spirit, living every moment of the day in the conscious presence of God, ready to do anything He may tell us to do. When a number of people start living like this, those around them will call it revival. But it is not fully a revival until it starts spreading. Then God starts taking control over people who previously ruled their own lives with an iron fist. Hardened sinners run to the altar, weeping. Yes, revival is all about control. It is the transfer of control of one’s life from self to God. Revival is when God gets control of lives that are out of control (salvation), and when He takes full control of lives that are only partially given over to Him (transformation). But you don’t have to wait for a sweeping move of the Spirit to personally experience a revival. If you want personal revival, that’s easy. Just give God full control of your life and see what happens.
Most Christians want revival, but they want one they can control. During the Brownsville revival many Pentecostals who said they wanted revival were skeptical of the “manifestations” taking place. Mostly, this consisted of attendees shaking and falling when they received prayer after the altar call. Often ignoring the hundreds of sinners literally running to the altar on a nightly basis, these critics would denounce the revival as not of God simply because they did not think the manifestations were biblical. That would be understandable if the Bible denounced shaking and falling, but it does not. So why did the shaking and falling upset them so many people?
There are many explanations of why God would cause people to shake or fall in His presence, but I am convinced that there was one overriding reason for it: because God wanted to demonstrate that when He shows up, He wants to be in full control of a person’s life, and that means you must be out of control. Whatever the manifestations at Brownsville were, they were clearly examples of people who were no longer in control. Could this be part of the reason so many “self-controlled” Christians did not like it?
A lot of people fear giving everything to God because they think he might make them to do something embarrassing. I remember as a teenager being afraid that if I got saved, God might tell me to stand on a table in my high school cafeteria and preach the gospel. Because of that fear, I was hesitant to abandon all and serve Him. If we really want to experience God’s presence, then He must have permission to embarrass us, to tell us to do anything He wants, even to send us to our deaths. Anything less than that and He is not truly Lord and Master.
The church of America needs reviving. Too many Christians are still in control of their own lives. They sing in church things like, “I can’t live without your presence,” but then they go home and live without it and are quite satisfied. We are too easily satisfied. We need more hunger for God. Most of the people who were impacted by the Brownsville revival were so hungry, they wanted God to take over, even if it meant being embarrassed. That is why the manifestations did not prevent them from coming. Does God have permission to embarrass you? Does He have permission to tell you to leave your lucrative job and become a missionary? Does he have permission to say no to your ambitions and tell you to live the quiet, obscure life of an intercessor? When God shows up, He does not want just to impose the teachings of Scripture on you; He wants to rule every aspect of your life. If we will not allow that, then we will resist the next revival when it comes.
I do not want a repeat of the Brownsville revival. I do not want to see manifestations. I just want God to revive His church, and whatever that looks like is alright with me. When He comes, it will be to take total control of our lives. He wants to be Lord, but He also wants to be Master. Will you yield your whole life to Him on that day?