Have you ever thought about the life of a slave, or of a lifelong servant? If you try and put yourself into the shoes of one sold into slavery, what words come to mind?
Service. Obedience. Fear. Hard work.
Your life is no longer your own, you live, eat, sleep and work at the will of your master. You obey when commanded without question, or live in fear of punishment. You serve without question.
There is probably a difference too in who your master is. A good master may offer some form of reward, some small amount of freedom (as long as your service is always perfect), some small amount of care. A ‘bad’ master is not worth dreaming of, living in fear of your very life every day, knowing you cannot escape. Living on the minimum of sleep, food and essentials, and yet still bound always to your masters will.
Slavery is not something you would choose, given the option.
And yet – all who follow Jesus in some sense choose slavery (but with a difference).
Over the next few posts, we will be going through the second letter of Peter. I have felt called to read and study this book many times over the past few months, and I believe it has a lot to say to the modern church, and to the contemporary Christian. Between encouragements that lift us up clearly from the world we live in, there are also many warnings which are very relevant in our connected and non Christian world.
2 Peter 1:1–2 (HCSB)
Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Peter here calls himself a ‘slave’ (though sometimes translated ‘servant’) of Jesus Christ. If Peter, who knew Jesus face to face, spent three years with Him and was one of Jesus’ closest companions on this earth is a slave, what does that leave us, but to be in at very best equal standing with him?
For we are slaves of Jesus. We are to be obedient to His commands. We are tied to His will. We even live or die at His command.
And yet, we are more than that. Along with being slaves, we are also children. We are adopted into the heavenly family, and so receive benefits also as beloved children of God.
Romans 8:15–17 (HCSB)
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs —heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
What does this mean for me today?
As slaves, we are to be obedient in all things. We are commanded to do certain things, to be holy, to offer service, to give glory to God in all things. We must do these, as there is nothing else we can do if we are to remain in service. But we also know even in slavery, we have an utterly just and fair master, a good master, who will not take unfair advantage of our lowly position, but ensure we are cared for in all things, and rewarded for our service even if we have no merit for the reward.
As chosen children however, we remain loved. We can be forgiven when we do wrong or fail in our obedience (because we all do). We know that despite the fact we are slaves, bound to God through service, and bonded to God in repayment for our forgiveness through Jesus Christ, we also live as children in expectation of an inheritance – an inheritance before God that will be more than we can imagine, and most likely also different than anything we can imagine!
So go away today encouraged. Know that God does love us as children, and in response to that love, we offer back to him our full obedience and service – not because we have been kidnapped unwillingly from our homeland and taken in service to another place – but out of love and response to the work that Jesus did for us on the cross.