Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?
He and his wife became dear friends of mine throughout my intern year at Rock Spring Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. He had worked for the railroad a number of years and his family came to call him Cap’n, a modified version of “Captain.” I lived with them for three months while serving the church following graduation from seminary. During the course of that time, I came to address him as “Cap’n” too. He enjoyed being in charge and seeing his household respect him. He was a good “Cap’n” without wielding a heavy hand to keep their household “on track.”
Jesus experienced people giving Him lip service, “calling Him Lord” without obeying Him, that is, without doing what He told them to do. They disrespected Him because their words and actions were not in accord. Otherwise, when they called Him ‘Lord,’ this title would be in sync with what they were doing, namely following His instructions.
One might think Jesus would illustrate this inconsistency first, but He chooses to show what life in accord with calling Jesus, ‘Lord,’ would be like. When people come to Jesus, hear His words and act on them, they are like a man building a house, who digs deeply and lays the foundation on rock. The house will be so solidly built that it can withstand a flood and the raging river that batters it.
In comparison, those who come to Jesus and hear His words but do not act on them are like a man who builds a house on the ground as its foundation. The floods rise and the river bursts against it. The house collapses and it is ruined.
If we are going to call Jesus ‘Lord,’ then we need to strive to obey His commandments. If we are going to call Jesus ‘Lord,’ then we need to follow wherever Jesus leads us. If we are going to call Jesus ‘Lord,’ then our words and our actions will be in accord and will bear witness to the One we are called to serve.
O Lord, in our experience of life we know the disappointment and hurt that comes when others do not keep their promises. We confess that we have been guilty of calling You ‘Lord,’ and not doing what You instruct us to do. Forgive us. Help us to obey Your commandments and to follow wherever You lead us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.