Calvary Church

4216 West 204th St, Matteson, IL – 708-481-8300
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  • Slave

    Who am I? Romans 1:1

    1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus (what is my identity?)

    The Greek work here translated “servant” is defined by Strong’s in this way: doulos: a slave, one bound to serve (from δέω (deō ) to bind) one whose will and capacities are wholly at the service of another . δοῦλος (doulos 1401) is used of the lowest scale of servitude, but when transferred to Christian service it expresses the highest devotion of one who is bound by love.

    I think that our translations seek to soften this concept by translating “doulos” as “servant”, rather than “slave”. Slavery is against our rebellious natures. We desire to have some degree of autonomy to cling to and the term “servant” tends to allow some degree of it. Being a slave clearly conveys that we have no independent rights or autonomy. Our fallen natures chafe against this idea. “Let us break their chains and throw off their fetters!”

    When we talk about “not my will, but yours be done”, I think that we do not really consider the implications. If doing the will of God is merely a matter of avoiding things worldly and sinful, we are all good. However, if we think about totally renouncing ownership of our entire lives, including our possessions, we might tend to balk. Avoiding this or that carnality doesn’t really cost us anything, other than the pleasures of sin for a short while. But surrendering our durable goods and what we deem that we deserve is another thing altogether.

    We forget that a slave has no personal possessions, as everything, even their very souls belongs to the master, who may do with them as he wishes. In the case of the follower of Christ, everything must be surrendered to Christ as if our very possessions were his and not our own because this is the reality for us. We own nothing. We are stewards who have been entrusted with what we “have” that it might be used in ways that are honoring to him. I am tempted to say, “mere” stewards, but that would diminish the role of being a steward of the High King of heaven. There can be no higher calling,

    We must understand that we submit to a master who’s intentions for us are the best, even though it is not the minute little kingdom of our desires that he seeks to advance. This best does not at all refer to that which would benefit me personally, but that which advances his kingdom. Therefore, everything about and about us is surrendered to his will, the advancement of his Kingdom. We surrender all to he who surrendered all for us. (See Philippians 2)

    We admire the commitment of those who have given all to Christ as we read through historical accounts of Rome using Christians for torches and as fodder for the games. We hear of the modern day martyrs and admire their courage in the face of death and torture. We are amazed at how they have given all and wonder if we could give all like they have. biblically, we each should have already have given all.

    If we are indeed douloi (slaves)of Christ then giving all should not even be an issue. It should have already been done. In spite of this surrender, we are constantly tempted to possess that which is not ours, but which is now Christ’s, by default. In this, we are, in effect, thieves or at least those who covet as our flesh fights this new bondage to a different will. This is the primary battle in seeking to live a life worthy of Christ: Is all surrendered without regret, or do we desire to take back what we have willing surrendered.

    Although this giving of all, this act of acknowledging our servitude, our absolute bondage to this gracious master, does require forfeiture of all that we are and have, there is this marvelous upside to this exchange.

    We understand that there are no material goods that we remove from this life with us. This is why we are concerned with inheritance rights. Any “ownership” of the things that we cannot take with us is actually mere stewardship at best and that for only a passing time. How are we to regard these temporary material things, even our own bodies, in the light of an eternity that recognizes them as mere vapors that one hardly can see for the second that they exist. In the end, we exchange what amounts to nothing for the eternal glory of Christ which we share in even now. We cannot lose in this exchange. In the words of Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”.

    We are to be those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness and not the ownership of what the world’s siren song draws us to. We who are supposed to be douloi Christos, slaves of Christ, in reality own nothing but our master’s love for us. This one possession, his infinite love for us, is what is supposed to define us in every respect in a world that constantly decrees the latest conformity.

    How easy it becomes to merge devotion to our gracious and loving master with the pursuits with the desire to please self. How smoothly we dilute our one passion with infinitely lesser ones. How simple it is for us to pass the lot of widows and the fatherless to programs rather than loving them ourselves. How possible for us to rationalize away our one devotion until it is a mere hobby that we squeeze into our spare time.

    Are we content to be slaves of Christ?

    Are we joyful in our chosen estate?
    As Paul begins this letter to the Romans, he understands that he is writing to a group of believers of which many would have been slaves. (We know that 40% of the population of Rome at that time were slaves.) They would have fully understood the depth of devotion that they were being called to; to be slaves of Christ who himself took on the very nature of a slave according to Philippians 2. There were those in the Church at Rome who would have been masters as well. The Jews in the Church there would certainly be able to recall their bondage in Egypt. They knew slavery, and the rightless estate that Paul referred to as a slave of Christ.

    A slave accepts that they are stewards of possessions that are their master’s and that these possessions are to be used at the master’s direction and discretion. A slave understands that it is the master’s business that they are to be about, and not their own. A slave submits to their master in everything.

    We struggle greatly with this concept in an effort to maintain some manner of personal pride and dignity. Jesus was not concerned with dignity or pride, and neither ought we to be. It was not easy to find an accurate picture of Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet. Almost all of the illustrations have him fully clothed, which was not the case. He stripped down to what would have been his boxers in our cultural context, taking the place of a slave so low that even clothing was not provided. Christ calls us to such utter surrender.

    We have a master who is utterly unlike human masters. This master loves us to the point that he became a slave with us that he might redeem us from the terminal bondage that sin has placed on us. We have a master who died to free us to the taskmasters of mercy, love and grace. Our Master died to redeem us to himself.
    We will submit all to him?

    called (called, invited; welcome, chosen.) to be an apostle (this is not my message, but his)

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