The English word lord is a distinctly European word that brings up images of men in wigs sitting in Parliament or medieval feudal land owners. We Americans soundly rejected the entire notion of lord a couple hundred years ago and after we won the war we banned the entire concept from our land. In America every person is free. In American every person controls his own destiny. In America the lords have been expelled.
We’ve gotten along without them quite swimmingly actually. We became the world’s most dominant country through hard work, ingenuity, and determination free from the rule of a controlling lord. We proved that humankind needs no lord to be successful: we can make our own decisions and guide our own futures. Our system has created the opportunity for every person to become his own lord. And as we’ve gained wealth and experienced success that is exactly what we’ve become: in America every person is his own lord.
The concept of being one’s own lord is built into the American worldview from the time we’re able to understand language. Of course, no one would actually call himself lord, but that’s the whole point: the entire concept of lordship is foreign to us. We think in terms of self-sufficiency and individualism that, by definition, completely excludes the need for a lord. We would simply say that we are our own person who makes our own decisions and controls our own destiny. In truth, our culture doesn’t even know what a lord is. But the reality is that we have become our own lords, ruling over ourselves with sovereignty and performing to our own glory.
So when we say, “Jesus is Lord,” I’m not sure we have any idea what we’re saying. I suspect that most Christians think that Jesus being Lord is good; after all, if we’re talking about Jesus it must be good. But we don’t really understand the term because the entire concept is completely outside our worldview. For many American Christians, the lordship of Jesus is purely a religious statement that most likely has no impact on their daily lives.
My simple definition of lord is this: the Lord is the person who is the boss of me. Most people I know have tried being the boss of themselves and ended up failing completely. Even if they haven’t messed up their entire lives on the outside, they still often feel unfulfilled, lacking purpose and meaning in their lives. Once we come to the realization that we’re not very good bosses of ourselves the question becomes, “Who is capable of being the boss of me?” When we say that Jesus is our Lord we are saying that we’ve made Jesus the boss of us.