James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (James 1:1)
Slavery Is A Good Thing
The subject of slavery is unfavorable for many reasons in our country due to the perceived history that brought about a civil war and civil unrest. Talking about slavery is a delicate debate of right and wrong and lasting impressions that linger to this day. Lost in the rejection of slavery is the manner God uses it to describe our relationship to Him. The Law of Moses never banned slavery but placed restrictions and regulations concerning the treatment of slaves. When the early church began to form its doctrines according to the word of God, slavery was not prohibited but like the Law of Moses challenged its treatment of the slave and attitudes of those under slavery. Paul instructed the saints in Corinth to remain in the calling which they were found including slaves. Using slavery as a backdrop, the early writers called themselves servants of God and of Christ to make a powerful point.
To be a slave meant that all rights were given up for the service of another. When it comes to our relationship with the Lord this is the only way we can serve Him. Living in a land of the free and the brave gives us the idea that we are free to do whatever our heart desires. This can be true in our relationship to the government and community but this is not the case in our service to God. Slaves had no rights and had to obey their masters to the letter of the law. They were not free to choose what they wanted, where they wanted to go and how they were to carry out their service. Some will look at this as a cruel denial of rights demanding justice be meted out to set those servants free. To be crucified with Christ demands we become slaves of God. We are not free to choose what we want, where we can go and how we can carry out our life outside the bounds of God’s law. There are too many American Christians that believe the Constitution of the United States and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the guide for the service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Nothing is further from the truth. James called himself a bondservant or slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Slavery is required in the kingdom of God. We have no rights – none. All of our supposed rights were taken away when we crucified ourselves to Jesus Christ making the good confession of allegiance that we believe He (and He alone) is the Son of God making Him the King. In the feudal days of lords, ladies and kings, whatever the king demanded was done and without question. Serving King Jesus is not a democracy. It is an absolute monarchy. A Christian is a slave of the master Jesus Christ and must serve in that capacity as a slave. The reason slavery can be a terrible thing for men is they do not possess the capability of everlasting justice and love. Many slaves desired to stay with the master because they were treated so well (see the Law of Moses and the awl in the ear). The book of Philemon is about a Christian master who was implored to take back his slave Onesimus. What made the book powerful is the knowledge that Onesimus had become a Christian. Being a slave under Christ is the most wonderful experience man can possess because our master died for us. Let that sink in a moment and drink deeply from that cup! We are slaves of the one who died for me so that I could see His Father. What part of that slavery would anyone not want to have? This is the essence of being a slave of Christ.
The apostles Paul and Peter referred to themselves as slaves of Jesus Christ. New Testament Christian’s must learn how to be slaves of Christ to subject their hearts and minds to the will of the Father. It requires full obedience like a slave. The Father and Son provide every spiritual blessing that makes our slavery salvation. Serving a master demands humility. The Christian does not have a right to refuse the will of the Father. His word is our guide and we obey – because we are slaves. What is truly remarkable about our slavery is that when our work is done we are allowed to live eternally with our master glorifying Him for all of His goodness given to us. The joy of slavery in Christ is without end.