It summed up the Church's understanding of Jesus and underscored the centrality of Jesus to their movement. No Jesus= no church. What's more it was a potent statement they lived, not just believed. That Jesus was Lord was (and is) a fact vindicated for them in Jesus' resurrection (someone who beats death must be the rightful Lord of the world after all).
Here's how they thought in light of the resurrection: 'If Jesus is Lord, extending his good reign over all the earth, then that good reign means that everyone ought to be able to eat. Have clean water to drink. Not have to die alone. Not be ostracized because of race, creed, gender or economic status. Experience love, kindness and compassion.' So they worked and lived and sacrificed as if the reign of Jesus were true--all in the face of pluralism and opposition.
I recently sat listening to Alan Hirsch talk about how the church in China has Jesus is Lord as their basic (and almost only) creedal statement. Now maybe we Americans think that is too "thin." As in how would you teach doctrine, interpret Scripture, provide staff, raise funds, etc? After all, the American church is growing by leaps and bounds and we place a high emphasis on those things, so that must be important, right? I've been wrestling through those questions since I heard Alan's talk.
Then I read this post by Bob Roberts. Here's his closing line from it: "I think we need more Muslims, Bhuddist, Atheist, Hindus, etc. so that we can focus in on the message of who Jesus is. Oh, oh, oh, could that be the secret of the church’s explosion in other parts of the world–its Christianity being forced to bump up against other religions instead of being an isolated religion."
So here we are in a pluralist society and world--a world racked by hunger, lack of clean water, disease, marked incivility and strife, anger, bitterness and rage--one week after Easter when we celebrated that Jesus is Lord.
How are we doing at living like it's true?