A couple weeks ago, I was reading Romans 14 and the following passage jumped out to me and I've been chewing on it ever since:
For this very reason, Christ died
and returned to life so that he might be the
Lord of both the dead and the living.
Just coming off of Easter many of us having been reflecting on the fact that Jesus is Lord of the physical living and dead. But if you read Romans 14 you realize that Paul is talking about more than physical life and death. The very next verses state:
You, then, why do you judge your brother?
Or why do you look down on your brother?
For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
All of Romans 14 is dealing with how we as Christians walk out our faith and freedom and how one Christian's "freedom" in one area can cause a stumbling block for a "weaker" brother in Christ. The differences between where we are at cause us often times to judge one another. So based on the context of this chapter I believe that verse 9 is not only referring to the fact that Jesus is Lord of all of us our physical state of life and death but also in our spiritual state of living and dying.
I have come to a place in my Christianity where for the most part, I understand how God feels about me, no matter where I am at and how He is willing to meet me in that place. However, I have struggled with an inability to extend that same grace to where my brothers and sisters in Christ are at. Instead, I often find myself wanting them to be "in a certain place" in order for me to be comfortable with them and fully accepting of them. To be honest, many of my prayers had been, "Lord, bring so and so to 'this place' so they can understand you better." However, ever since I read Romans 14:9, the Lord has been chipping away at my perspective and showing me His perspective.
Jesus Christ is Lord of both the living and the dead. Wherever my brother or sister in Christ is at, He is Lord over them right now. Now this might seem obvious, but when I put that truth up next to how I was treating my brother and sister in Christ I wasn't treating them according to that reality. I was treating them in this way: that they needed to get to point X in order to prove to me that the Lord was Lord over them.
I haven't fully gotten on grasp on what this new perspective all means but it has been changing how I view others and especially how I pray. As I said earlier, I used to pray "Lord get them to this spot." Like somehow I knew what spot they needed to be at and that at this "spot" they would somehow be able to know and receive Him more. Since reading Romans 14:9, I have started releasing my "expectations" of what needs to be done and instead have been declaring what is true over people's lives when I pray for them.
"Jesus, you are Lord over the living and the dead. No matter where this person is at right now, you love this person there, right now. Because of your death on the cross and your resurrection You have authority over them in this place. I speak the truth of who you are over them right now, and I pray that they will experience the depth of Your great love right now where they are at."
1 Corinthians 8:1-3 sums what I've been experiencing:
We know that we all possess knowledge.
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
The man who thinks he knows something does not
yet know as he ought to know.
But the man who loves God is known by God.
I do believe that I have let my "knowledge" of God puff me up to a place that it becomes a barrier between myself and others. But the grace of God keeps taking me back to what Jesus asked of us: that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength and to love others. In this place is a freedom to be known by God and a freedom to love others no matter where they are at.