Slave or AND Free
As followers of Jesus we live with tension. There is the tension between Law and Gospel. There is the tension between being a sinner and a saint at the same time. There is also the tension of living as both a slave and as a free person. That last one might sound new or strange to you. But that is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 6:20-22. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from doing what God approves of. 21 What did you gain by doing those things? You’re ashamed of what you used to do because it ended in death. 22 Now you have been freed from sin and have become God’s slaves. This results in a holy life and, finally, in everlasting life. (GW)
Paul says that once you were a slave to sin, but now you are a slave to God! James MacArthur in his book Slave explains that often in the New Testament, the word slave is translated into English as servant.
But what if we are to live as both slave and free? What if we are to live as slaves of Christ? How would that look in our lives? Romans 6:22 says that you and I are God’s slaves. Jesus says in John 8:34-35: 34 Jesus answered them, “I can guarantee this truth: Whoever lives a sinful life is a slave to sin. 35 A slave doesn’t live in the home forever, but a son does. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free. So we see that at the same time we are both slaves and free.
We need to strike a balance in living in this tension. As Americans we tend to overemphasize the free part. But what about the slave part? If we are slaves of Christ, then that makes Christ our master. Do slave masters give options to slaves? Too often I try to make Christ’s commands a multiple choice menu. I could obey Jesus by doing A or B or C. But the reality is that Jesus wants me to obey by doing A and B and C. My sinful, willful self wants to exert autonomy instead of dependency. I want to be able to insert my own options rather than obeying Jesus completely and willingly.
Slaves were given different tasks. So my tasks that the Master gives me may not be the same as the tasks He gives you. But the Master always gives you what you need in order to complete the tasks He has given you. (For more on this, I suggest you attend the new sermon series Unwrapped: discovering and using your spiritual gifts starting 2/16/14 at New Life.)
I am still working on understanding what being Christ’s slave means in my life. I think a big part of that is found in the words of Jesus while he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but Thy will be done.” Isn’t that what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer when we pray, Thy will be done?
How are you doing living in the tension of being Christ’s slave and God’s free child?