Child: a son or a daughter.
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given us, that we should be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!” 1 John 3:1
What a wonderful thing to have Almighty God as our Father! The perfect Father lavishing perfect love on His children unconditionally for all of eternity. A beautiful relationship offered to anyone who will say “yes”. The opportunity to be reborn as His own and an heir to all He has. This is a position to be respected and thoroughly enjoyed. Jesus came for this reason – to make a way for us to be in His family. He came so that we could have life and have it more abundantly! We need to rejoice in our place in this family!
But is the child also the servant?
Servant: one who serves; subjection without the idea of bondage
“But we commend ourselves in every way as true servants of God…” 2 Corinthians 6:4
Most Christians embrace this role as well. We know Jesus was the ultimate Servant, prophesied as such many years before His birth. We know that He is our model and we are to pattern our lives after His, so we make ourselves available to serve others in many ways. We teach at church, we volunteer at the food pantry, we distribute coats to the homeless, we mow yards and clean houses and a multitude of other things. This is such an important part of our purpose on this earth – for the children of God to express His love to others by serving. We feel comfortable with having the opportunity to choose where we want to serve, finding roles that best suit our personalities, gifts, and talents. It is a wonderful experience to serve passionately because all the pieces fit together well – we feel we are in the right place and able to give our best.
But let’s consider more of the words Paul wrote about being a true servant of God:
“…through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships, and privations, in sore straits and calamities, in beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger; by innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, longsuffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love; by speaking the word of truth, in the power of God….amid honor and dishonor, in defaming and evil report and in praise and good report…branded as deceivers…unknown and ignored…well-known and recognized…” 2 Corinthians 6:4-9
We have many opportunities to choose when, where, and how we serve others. But I must admit, I fall terribly short as a servant when trouble comes. I have a tendency to become very self-centered, no longer serving Christ or anyone else other than myself. Paul set a pretty high standard of what it means to be a true servant of God!
That’s because Paul didn’t stop with the concept of just being a servant. He called himself a slave.
Slave: a person held in servitude as the property of another; bondage
Slavery is a horrible, ugly problem in the world. Millions of people suffer at the hands of others, held captive against their wills for the purposes of abuse and all sorts of evil. It should grieve the heart of every Christian and move us to pray passionately for their release.
Slavery was also a part of the culture of Paul’s day. He understood that slaves were not free to make their own choices. He knew that slaves were often abused. They were bound to do whatever their masters bid them to do. We are repelled by the idea of being a slave, yet this is the term Paul used to describe himself:
“From Paul, a bondslave of Jesus Christ…” Romans 1:1
From Vine’s Expository Dictionary definition of bondman:
In calling himself…a “bondslave of Jesus Christ…the apostle Paul intimates (1) that he had been formerly a “bondslave” of Satan, and (2) that, having been bought by Christ, he was now a willing slave, bound to his new Master.
“…You are not your own. You were bought with a price – purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We are children, servants, and slaves. We are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price. We belong to a perfect, good Master that is worthy of our willingness to do whatever He asks us to do.
There is no greater freedom than as a slave to Christ!