Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thankful to be a slave

I've been meditating more on this concept of Christian discipleship as a "call to slavery," and have two additional thoughts:

  1. The alternative to slavery to Christ is not moral liberty and personal autonomy; it is slavery to sin and to Satan. Before Christ, we may think we are free, but we are actually slaves of a different dictator. Romans 6:17-20 says, "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification."
  2. The fact that Jesus Christ is my Master does not mean He is an unjust and abusive tyrant; on the contrary, He is always merciful, generous, and reasonable. His "yoke is easy, and His burden is light" (Matt. 11:30). Sometimes, He asks me to do hard things, but He always gives me the grace to obey Him. He is the most benevolent king of all. Thomas Watson says, "He is a king full of mercy and clemency; as He has a sceptre in His hand, so an olive branch of peace in His mouth. Though He be the Lion of the tribe of Judah for majesty, yet He is the Lamb of God for meekness. His regal rod has honey at the end of it. He sheds abroad His love into the hearts of His subjects; He rules them with promises as well as precepts. This makes all His subjects become volunteers; they are willing to pay their allegiance to Him" (Body of Divinity, p. 188).
Lord Jesus, thank you for shedding Your own blood to buy me off the slave trade of sin and to enlist me into Your gracious service. I am so unworthy of Your love, and so honored to be a slave of the Most High God. Help me this day to serve you with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.


David said...

This Sunday I finished preaching through Colossians. It took all fall and this January.

Colossians actually has a beautiful passage written to... well, Christian slaves.

Col 3:22-25
"Slaves , obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism."

I see this as a good picture of the employer employee relationship. That is: My dispostion toward by employer shows what kind of true slave I am to Christ.

It is unfortunate that in America's darker days these passages were used to condone actual slavery; when in truth the New Testament is an advocate that one man cannot own another man. That tarnishes our ability to really look at these Scriptures from a spiritual point of view from the pulpit.

Stephen Jones said...

David, thanks for sharing this passage from Colossians. I love that statement, "It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Those slaves were serving a human master, but at the same time, they were ultimately serving a heavenly Master. This principle applies to so many different relationships in our lives:

*Pastors are not ultimately studying and preaching for their congregations. They are doing it for God.

*Citizens are not ultimately obeying the laws of the government. They are obeying God.

*Wives are not ultimately submitting to their husbands. They are submitting to God.

*Children are not ultimately obeying their parents. They are obeying God.

*Employees are not ultimately working for their bosses. They are working for God.

Yes, unfortunately, the Bible has been misinterpreted and abused over the centuries in regard to slavery. The Bible never commanded slavery, nor did it abolish it. Rather, it told Christian slaveowners how to conduct themselves, and told Christian slaves how to conduct themselves.

Having recently taught through Colossians 3, did you find that your congregation easily grasped the spiritual point of the passage, or did the very word "slavery" pose a stumbling block? How did you overcome this?

David said...

I don't think I ran into any problems at all with Colossians 3. I opened by hitting the problem head on:

"Mark Twain said he would not become a Christian because preachers of his day were using this text as a claim that Scripture condoned slavery. Nothing can be further from the truth. In Exodus the Bible shows us God leading an entire group of slaves into freedom. In the New Testament we have an entire book devoted to the freeing of a slave -- the companion book to Colossians: Philemon. But the Bible does give instructions to Christians in whatever Circumstances they will find themselves in."

From there on I dealt with it as you just did: Giving our best in whatever relationship we are in because ultimately our service is to Christ, not man.

Interesting you would mention husbands wives. I think you're right on! In the curch, in the work place and in the home it is ultimately Christ who is the "head." And, those who lead are to see themselves as servants of the coming King, to whom they must answer.