What if We SEE Him the Way We SAY Him?

by Salvatore Anthony Luiso

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Words clearly matter when it comes to how we speak to others about Jesus. It shapes how they respond to him. But it also matters for you because the ways you refer to Jesus shape the ways you reverence Jesus and respond to him in your own heart. In this guest blog post, Salvatore A. Luiso gives unique insights into the impact we have – on ourselves and others – based on how we brand God’s Son as we talk about him. — David Bryant]

There are many ways in which we refer to the Son of God. It is important for us to be attentive to how we do this because it both reflects and affects our relationship with him.

How we refer to him varies not only from one person to another but from one church to another.

In some churches, he is often, if not mostly, referred to by the name his parents gave him in obedience to God: “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31). In other churches, he is most often referred to by title, such as “Lord,” “Savior,” “Christ,” or a combination of a title and “Jesus”—for example, “Lord Jesus” or “Jesus Christ.”

Why is this?

I have not conducted a formal study of that question. But based upon my own experiences, I believe it is because of differences in concern and emphasis with respect to him and our relationship with him.

This is what I think. Do you agree?

  1. Churches that are primarily concerned with and emphasize his humanity, approachability, and the importance of having a personal relationship or intimacy with him refer to him as “Jesus”—without a title—more often than do other churches.
  1. Churches that mainly value and emphasize his role as savior refer to him more often as “Savior” than do other churches.
  1. Churches that are very serious about and emphasize paying due reverence to the Son of God refer to him with at least one title, such as “Lord,” “Christ,” or “Lord Jesus Christ,” more often than do other churches.

Of course, there are churches that have a combination of these emphases. However, often one of the concerns is primary and thus the most influential.

If we are Jesus’ disciples, we should want to know this: How do the Scriptures refer to him?

Answer: In dozens of ways, all of which are good and all of which we may use.

Yet, as his disciples, we should be most concerned with how the apostles referred to him after his ascension.

Jesus chose them and prepared them to serve as teachers of his church. They not only knew him better than anyone, they knew him in ways we can only imagine. We can see how they referred to him in the book of Acts and the epistles.

There they refer to him sometimes as “Jesus” without a title, but, in the vast majority of cases, they refer to him either with only a title, such as “Christ,” or with at least one title plus “Jesus,” such as “Jesus Christ” and “Lord Jesus Christ.”

I recommend that we all examine and consider how we usually refer to the Son of God because, as I said, how we do so both reflects and affects our relationship with him.

If we speak of him more frequently as “Jesus” without a title rather than with one, this could well be a sign that we revere him less than the apostles did—and thus less than we ought.

Similarly, if we refer to him more frequently as “Savior” than as “Lord,” this could well be a sign that, unlike the apostles, we regard him more as Savior than as Lord.

It is vital that we regard him as both. He is not only the Savior of those who trust in him for their salvation, and he is not only the Lord of those who follow and obey him, but he reigns as Lord over everyone and everything in all creation, both now and forever.

Of course, as Jesus warned us in the Sermon on the Mount, it is possible to refer to him as “Lord” without actually knowing him and relating to him as Lord, which involves reverence and obedience (Matthew 7:21-23). Throughout history, multitudes of people have referred to him as “Lord” and “Christ” without living as if he were either.

I believe, though, that referring to him as “Lord” is conducive to thinking of him as Lord over ALL and thus to responding to him accordingly—with due reverence, humility, and obedience.

A few questions for consideration:

  1. How do you commonly refer to the Son of God?
  1. Why do you refer to him in that way or ways?
  1. Do you ever refer to him with other descriptive names, titles, or phrases that are recorded in the Scriptures, such as Son of David, Prince of Peace, Master, Rabbi (Teacher), High Priest, King, Lamb of God, Bridegroom, Holy One, or Alpha and Omega? If so, how, when, and why?
  1. How do you think the way you “say” him actually reflects and affects how you “see” him? Please leave your comments below.


About the Author

Salvatore Anthony Luiso is a research assistant for David Bryant and the ChristNow team. He resides in Williamsburg, VA.

Originally posted by Christ NOW

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