This is probably the last in the “three wheels of an autorickshaw” series. In the last two weeks we saw signs of what it looks like when the church does not live like it is God’s family and His missionaries.
This week, let us look at what happens when a local church forgets or worse, ignores living like God’s slaves.
Image credit – by Sudhamshu Hebbar, Flickr.com. CC BY license
“The loving slave takes any colour and shade and does all things the Master commands.”
Question – How much did the identity of being God’s slave affect Jesus Christ’s life?
Of course, He is God’s one and only Son. And yet, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered..” (Heb 5:8,NIV). When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, He gave them and Christians for all time the command of serving with no care for stature and assumed norms. In the great commission, the resurrected Lord Jesus states his position of all authority for all time, thus implying & assigning the position of glad slavery for all children of God.
Now to some of us, that statement might come with considerable shock value, because we may have been raised on the popular “God is all love” notion and nothing more. But knowing our Lord, He is true love and also true, holy authority above everything and everyone who is not Jesus.
We also see the Spirit of God recording how the first church identified themselves as slaves. We also see the apostles Peter and Paul affirming their position of slaves in their letters. Then, do today’s church communities recognize and war against symptoms in their lives that show little to no inclination to live like God’s slaves?
Problem III. Our church is not living as God’s slaves.
1. We have not understood that living as God’s slaves can come only if we understand the gospel. As a Christian, if you feel you have been serving mostly yourself, you probably need to remind yourself deeply of the gospel. You see, once we are forgiven and given a new nature at the cross, you and I, really have no rights but we are expected to have a posture of glad acceptance of orders from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. The orders might range from cleaning the dishes for your spouse, to spending time regularly with the retired, grumpy, lonely old uncle next door- all depends on what needs you see with your missional family helping you to see opportunities of service in better perspective.
Who is the Lord Jesus?
What has He done for me?
So what does that make me?
So then, how should I live now?
If we recall these questions often and note down what they imply – would we not behave like God’s slaves?
2. We have a low view of the Christian’s need to obey. Often after hearing a challenging sermon or missionary story, I have found myself and other fellow brothers sigh and say things like these –
“That is tough! I wonder how one could live that way.”
“Obeying that way today is almost impossible.”
“Wow.. I could have never done that.”
Such honest admittance is great, but the problem with these seemingly innocent statements is that we could be saying these to excuse ourselves subconsciously.
Like our Lord said- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever..” (John 14:15-16, ESV).
3. We are content with “feeling love” toward others. But that is never equal to slaving in love.
The Bible says that all mankind will be judged based on our works, whether good or bad. The tree of love is only recognized when it’s fruit tastes of love. What tree can boast of virtuous love inside, while there is no good fruit in abundance outside?
In Matthew 21, Jesus tells the story of a man with two sons who are given the same task. One says he will do it, and doesn’t obey; the other son says he won’t do what his father commanded him, but he goes and does it anyway.
So really, the one who did the task is the one who obeyed. The thought really may not count in the kingdom, because like Paul said, “ For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power ” (1 Cor 4:20, NIV). When was the last time we prayed for power to serve? Slaving will come if true love is present.
4. We say we are serving. But really we just have been entertaining ourselves.
It is interesting how the same task can be sinful or holy, depending on our motives behind it. I could invite neighbours over for dinner, because I don’t want to leave my comfort zone. And if they don’t come, that is their fault, right? (Really now, satan!)
Or I could invite them, because I really want them at my home.
Do we ensure we are entertained and then see others are being served?
Do we think that we deserve some entertainment even if that doesn’t help anyone else?
When did Jesus think that way?
5. We have been busy being enslaved to this world’s ways.
And so, I might be serving a master who is not Christ.
My job, my wife, my leisure time, my collection of movies or my pastor did not pay for my sins and bear God’s wrath perfectly for me. Yet how often I live to serve them.
Where is the sense in that? Where is the gratitude in such a life pattern?
Would we be surprised if God brought discipline or judgement on such living?
But… one look at the cross of Christ and we know who we must serve- the beautiful, dying, sacrificial lamb of God. Thank you Jesus, for being a slave to your Father to the last drop, till the last breath. You are that crazy and worthwhile example for me to follow.
Are there any other points you see that are missing from this list? Do you disagree with any of these?
Feel free to respond, comment and share your experience of serving and slaving. May you and I serve just like Christ Jesus did!