One evening as I settle into my comfy old chair for some alone time with God, my grace-given wild imagination conjurs up Jesus sitting in a chair right next to me.
I close my eyes and reach for Him. I can almost feel His hand grasping mine.
I wrap my fingers tight around His, eager to speak with Him. Oh, Jesus. My Brother, my Mentor, my Savior, my King and my Ruler, I begin.
Immediately my eyes dart open – insert screeching halt sound here – as He interrupts my prayer with the whispered question, Which of those titles do you struggle with the most?
Titles. We all have them. When I was married, my title was “Mrs.” To my children my title is “Mom”. Or “Birth-giver” as I’m affectionately titled in my son’s contact list. And as a manager, “boss” was the title bestowed upon me.
A title can shape our view of someone. It can define the value and importance we place on them.
And titles usually influence how we feel about them and thus how we respond to them.
Jesus must have known the importance we would place on titles. He once asked His disciples that very same question He put on my heart that night.
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15 NIV
So, let’s see… Brother and Mentor? I think I have those down pat.
Savior, King, and Ruler? Yes, God, those might be the troublesome ones. Those titles push me to press in a bit deeper.
By design, God created us to long for and follow. To glorify and worship.
Of course, His plan was that we would long for, follow, glorify and worship Him above all else.
But then things went array in the garden and our focus shifted away from God. Away from His divine design.
In us grew a rebellious desire to possess attributes that belong only to God.
Our human nature deceives us into going our own way. Making our own rules. And being our own king.
The evidence of this can be seen in our children.
I’m certain no parent purposely taught their little bundles of joy to be self-centered. Yet, as soon as the concept of ownership is understood, “That’s mine” flows from the heart of every child and spills into their ever-growing vocabulary bank where it takes root and throughout their life sprouts over and over again.
This inward focus causes us to snatch away titles reserved for God and bestow them upon others. Other people. Other things.
We place people, positions, and possessions on the throne that reigns over our lives. We allow them to take up residence in our heart crowding out God’s rightful place.
We can even be deceived into thinking we no longer need a savior, a king or a ruler. For we have become those things to ourselves.
In 1 Samuel 8 we see this longing to go our own way unfold in the early history of mankind. The Israelites decided they didn’t need God and instead wanted a man who held the title of king to lead them. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.” 1 Samuel 8:19 NIV
So, God, being ever so gracious, appointed them a king. Immediately they shifted their focus away from God and put their hope and trust in others. They began to follow kings who were just as flawed as they were.
And just a few chapters later, after things went from bad to worse, they come to the conclusion having a king other than God was not such a great idea after all.
“We have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 1 Samuel 12:19b NIV
You see, if we long for and follow others to give us only what God can give, we are left disappointed. Empty.
So how can we look at God’s titles through a lens that makes it clear how we can better relate to some of His titles and apply them in our everyday life?
I don’t know about you, but I need “saving” every day. In the small things.
Saving from a free-flowing mouth or from negative thoughts. Saving from saying no to someone when I should be saying yes.
But mostly saving from being enticed by the fleeting things of this world. Saving from my thoughts and actions that place people, possessions, time, and tasks above God.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” 1 John:2:15 NIV
I must come to the realization that I can’t save myself. Not just from eternal death, but in the everyday of this enticing life.
In our American culture, we might find it challenging to relate to a king. Our government is not a monarchy and we live in a free society.
Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to slip ourselves into the king title. As we sit on the throne we dictate policy and govern our lives as we see fit. We follow our own lead.
But Jesus instructed us to follow Him.
He knew that we would follow something or someone.
He knew that anyone or anything that occupies the spot of king in our lives would only disappoint and leave us continually searching for a new something or someone.
He knew we needed someone to follow who was bigger, stronger, wiser and kinder than ourselves.
Ruler implies “rule maker”. Making our own rules sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Yet even when we appoint ourselves rule-maker, we still struggle with keeping the rules. Why? It’s a little too easy to break rules we make. Since we own them, we can change them at will.
We tend to bend, stretch, and twist our rules when it’s convenient and fits our agenda.
And more than likely, if we are making the rules, the rules will still have a slant toward serving ourselves. That’s not our calling.
Jesus came to serve not be served (Mark 10:45). And He calls us to do the same.
He knew we would get no satisfaction by serving heaping spoonfuls of self-satisfaction on our plates.
It’s interesting that prior to Jesus asking the disciples who they thought He was, He first asked them who the crowds thought He was.
But then He changed the stakes and made it very personal. “Who do you say I am?”
Jesus knew that if we didn’t keep an accurate view of who He was, we would let others slip into that sacred space. He knew that anyone or anything upon which we bestow titles reserved only for Him would fail us.
You see, a savior, king, or ruler must have pure motives if their purpose is to truly serve. They would always have our best interest at heart. They would sacrificially provide and protect. Love and serve.
The only one who can claim these titles with a pure heart is Jesus.
Yes, Jesus – my Brother, my Mentor, my Savior, my King and my Ruler.
So who is He to you? What title might you be reserving for yourself instead of surrendering to God? Or what title belonging to someone or something else do you struggle with putting before God? Child. Friend. Spouse. Work. Sweetheart. Parent. He asked us to ponder these things.
A Truth: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NIV
A Song: Our God by Chris Tomlin
A Read: None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
A Prayer: Jesus, thank for revealing my need for a reverent heart. Thank you for showing me I can sometimes have a limited understanding of the titles I should reserve only for you. Help me to see you as all you were meant to be – all your titles. The one who loves me, serves me, protects me and provides for me. Yes, you are all these. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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