For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
There is an ancient phrase that comes from our Church Fathers. The phrase is “Coram Deo.” Roughly translated it means, “live your life as if you are staring into the face of God.” I love the phrase so much it is etched on my shoulder. It is a daily reminder that Jesus has already come down, Jesus has already risen, and that Jesus is always close. To know those things should make life with Jesus easy. That is not the reality. Life gets really hard sometimes. When times get tough, what will I say about Jesus?
Christians suffer around the world in a way that we cannot imagine. The Christians in Rome suffered in a way that we cannot really understand. In 1st century Rome, people would throw “Hail Caesar” parties. If you were invited, all you had to do is say, “Hail Caesar,” and you walked into the party. This sounds simple until you know the punchline. Caesar proclaimed he was a god. To give allegiance to him is to say that he is lord and Jesus is not. So, Christians were invited to these parties on purpose. When they refused to utter these simple words, they were arrested. It would get much worse. Some would be used as human torches, set on fire to light the Roman gardens. Others would be thrown to lions and other animals to be devoured alive.
When times are tough, what do you say about Jesus? When life seems excruciating, what do you say about Jesus? Excruciating…the word derives from the word crucifixion. Jesus knew life we be unbearable sometimes. More than know it, He is already there with us. Confessing Jesus is Lord isn’t about His one-time appearance in our lives. Confessing Jesus is Lord is a day by day, even minute by minute declaration. It’s a confession to the world. It is also a confession to ourselves that He is always near.