Now it’s rare that you hear a major mainstream artist like Marley incorporating praise to the Lord in their lyrics. In fact, I am certain if any established artist of today were to dare to incorporate praise “to the Lord” in their songs a) it would not be heard liberally in the media and b) that artist would probably be vilified for offending others. But alas, Bob Marley lived in a time where “the Lord” when uttered in the mainstream of public consciousness was not considered akin to a curse word. Good for him; in a way thankfully for Marley, he died before the foolishness of today's media culture truly began.
The song also got me to thinking about the phrase “the Lord”. It is not one that you will likely hear uttered by people who are indifferent to God, and in that way, it draws an important distinction. The word God is freely used by many people whether reverentially, casually or intellectually. That someone uses the term God is not necessarily a distinguishing factor to determine whether that individual is a worshipper or even a believer in the sovereignty of God. When my children were younger, I made this distinction to them repeatedly. Just because someone may talk about “God” or use the name in a song, book or movie, does not automatically suggest that they are Christian or even believes in the true nature of God. The phrase “the Lord” however indicates a far more submissive disposition in relation to the one to whom it is conferred. The person who has no hesitancy in using the term “the Lord” in their conversations or in Bob Marley’s case in a song is clearly suggesting that this “Lord” is master over them. They are overtly declaring their unabashed subservience to Him (the Lord). It is this position of subservience and humility which indicates not only a belief in that Lord but likely worship of Him as well. In our culture, the term God is most often used as a noun (the name of our creator), whereas the term “Lord” is really more of an adjective – that which describes the position of God to the person using the term. As such, “the Lord” is a term that you will likely not hear freely used by many people in our society. By this point if you may be saying “so what”? What’s the difference which term is used? I write this because so many people seem to casually ascribe biblical kinship with others who they think shares their Christian values because they may use the term God in conversation. Teenagers and young people often make this mistake when choosing others to call their close friends. A more accurate indicator of a person’s spiritual allegiance to God is whether that person is comfortable using the term “the Lord”. Is God their Lord or is He just the abstract God. The far off entity who may have made everything but who is not Lord over them personally. In this song “One Love”, Bob Marley seems to be saying that the Creator was his Lord also.
However the Bible also states clearly that implying or even believing that God is your Lord is not enough to be accepted by Him. God clearly stated in scripture that though He indeed is our God, He will only accept us on the basis of our making His Son Jesus Christ our Lord: The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. (Acts 16: 19-34 NLT)
Bob Marley (who died at age 36 in 1981) was not saved unto everlasting life because He believed that only God was His Lord. Ultimately, Bob Marley is saved today because he believed that Jesus Christ is his Lord.