Franklin Gilliam brought up something interesting during yesterday’s sermon at New Eden Fellowship. I don’t know exactly how he got from introducing the book of Nehemiah to this topic, but I stll found it intriguing.
If you look through the New Testament, you’ll see mentioned, especially in the writings of Paul, the idea of being “slaves to righteous living”or where Paul refers to himself (along with others) as “slaves of Christ”. In our context in the 21st century, this idea of being a slave is rather distasteful. We don’t like this idea of being “owned”.
But if you go back to some of the original language and the context of the day, it’s not quite like that. Yes, it is a slavery of a person owning another person, but it has an undertone of where the slave voluntarily chooses it (the Greek word is “doulos”). They love their master so much that, even though they can choose to be free, instead they have chosen to be lifetime servants. The term “bond servant” maybe closer.
Essentially, what the writers are saying is that, when we start declaring Jesus as Lord, it’s not a halfway thing. We are, in effect, telling Jesus “my life is yours to do with as you please”. Rather than choosing our own path, our own actions, we are now subject to Jesus to go and do what he wants us to do. It’s no longer our choice. We have given our lives over to him. Whatever we do now, is as his slave and we will be accountable if we aren’t acting accordingly.
But it’s not just a dictatorial command structure. John writes in his gospel that Jesus treats his bond servants as more than just lackeys. “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father has told me” John 15:15 NLT. We are treasured friends. Our lives may not be our own, but the commandments and obedience aren’t just blind to us. We are plugged in to him to know not just what we are supposed to do but the why behind it and even giving us the power to know how to do it.
This turns Christianity upside down from what seems to be the norm. We are not saved to do our own thing, just nicer and better. We choose a bondage to Jesus that is better than any bondage conceivable to humanity. Instead of being saved to sit in church on Sunday morning, we are sent out into the world as Jesus’ friends and servants to do what he wants us to do in our families, our jobs, our communities, and our world. We are treasured friends and companions in this process and, while our lives are not our own, it is by no means an arduous thing.
Pretty deep for a Monday.