It is not an idea that plays well in North American society, but as Christians, we are not our own. If we be followers of the Lord Jesus, then there are some things that we need to acknowledge and do something about. For example, we are living in the Lord’s Dominion. We do not often acknowledge this but when Canada became a confederation of provinces and territories in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s, the country was known to be a dominion of the Crown. We were called Canada from the Huron-Iroquois word “Kanata” for village. It was the preferred word for the country in Quebec until confederation in 1867, and Ontario became Upper Canada and Quebec Lower Canada. From this, the former French colony adopted the name “Quebec” because Canada fell out of favour as the British took control of large portions of North America.
While confederation talks were proceeding, they wanted to call the new country, “The Kingdom of Canada” but folks in London would not allow this because the Americans, just having emerged from a civil war and being a military power, still had grievances with the British Crown left over from the Revolutionary War in the late 18th Century. The Dominion of Canada was settled on for two reasons: (1) the term Canadian or Canadien, was used to refer to the local First Nations in their traditional territories and then was also applied to the French and later to the English as they grew in prominence and power on the contents. (2) Canada, instead of being a kingdom, was recognized as the Lord’s dominion (Psalm 72.8).
Why the history lesson, aside from the fact that we are celebrating the sesquicentennial anniversary of the start of this confederacy? The question of how we live in the Lord’s dominion is important if we are truly his followers. The Gospel today (John 15.12-17) reminds us of how we are to live, towards God and towards each other. We are reminded that we are his: his choice, his call, his fruit and his body. We are called to go and proclaim the same kingdom that Christ does and demonstrate it with the same power and wonder that he does. We are to be a community that is bound by the same love that he has for us.
That means that we are called to learn to love him and each as he has loved us. In order to be able to love like that, we need to see and experience that love from Christ himself. Each and all of us need to learn to love the other, by learning to receive the love Christ has for each and for all of us, Until we do we cannot do what he asks. So we need the presence of the Spirit to know Christ and his love. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit – which is more than a onetime event that happens in a lifetime, like confirmation and ordination. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means that we have had that event and that we continue to live out that event and persist in being filled so that we can proclaim Christ and his dominion every day.
Moreover, we are called to go first and minister and then come and pray, so that we will pray rightly. I can think of no more powerful and harsher experience that trying to ministry in one’s one strength, wisdom and power. Learning that we are not all sufficient, in and of ourselves, is important int he long run of proclaiming the Lord’s dominion. When we know what the needs are, then we can pray properly, with earnestness and with compassion. In order to pray for those kinds of needs, we need to comprehend and know what is on the line. And we can fervently pray, “Fill me up, Lord, cause I leak.”
What counts in living in the Lord’s dominion? That we express ourselves, our faith, in loving our neighbours as ourselves, even if that means that we give our lives so that another might live. As the Master himself said, “No greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus did more than talk a good game like an armchair athlete. He lives a great life so that we might live it with him. We are called to follow in his footprints and see that the nails prints are our own. Our mission is to live out the dyings and risings of Christ on a daily basis and for all of us to become just like him.
We are not our own, we are chosen and we are commanded to bear fruit that will last, not just for this life, but for the life that is to come in the Lord’s dominion as well.