and He died for all, so that they who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. – 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NASB)
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? -Romans 6:16 (NIV)
Through the wonders of DNA, I’ve learned a lot about my ancestors. I’ve discovered that many of them came early to this country. Some were bond-servants. Some were slaveowners. Others became share-croppers. Members of my family fought on both sides of the Civil War.
From this mixed and messy lineage I have learned a bit of the horrific price our nation paid for the sin of slavery.
One of the most basic human desires is the yearning to live free from oppression. But bondage takes many forms, and it is a terrible thing to be enslaved to our own appetites. Sin creates chains only God can break.
No one has to live that way.
When Jesus Christ was born, the world lay chained to sin. To rescue us, the Creator did the unthinkable. He left the glory of heaven, stepped into His creation, entered time and space, and inhabited a human body. He emptied Himself and purposely became a servant for us, in order to purchase our redemption.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:5-7 (NKJV)
Imagine creating two clay pots, leaving your nice living room to live in one of the pots, and allowing the other pot to break you. For Christ, there was much more. As His creation crucified Him, He suffered the deeper agony of God’s fury poured upon Him in our place. He didn’t have to do it. He cared that much. “For God so loved” is not a trite cliché. It is written in the blood of a God who allowed Himself to be crushed to buy our freedom.
What a great love! What an unthinkable sacrifice! What a gift!
He asks one thing from us: our lives. Because He bought us at such a price, we belong to Him. Our surrender must be complete; heart, mind, body, and soul.
We don’t like this part of the gospel. We want to hold onto stuff. Submission to Christ means giving Him control over everything. It means ridding our lives of those things that dishonor Him so we wear His name with dignity. It means representing Him every hour of every day, serving righteousness instead of our own appetites.
So we streamline our entertainment. We talk to the broken people we usually avoid. We give God our bank account, our home, and our dreams. We serve at His pleasure. Servanthood is like that.
A slave is bound to serve his master. It doesn’t matter how tired he is, or if he has his own needs. As long as his rights lie in the hands of another, he has no say in what happens to him.
Even in this, our God is unique. This sovereign we serve grants us unlimited access to Him. He’s available at any hour to hear our petitions or to just talk. He is always listening. Our God is not a hard taskmaster, though our old nature tells us that when life gets hard. But returning to captivity is never the green pasture it appears. The Psalmist said it best:
For a day in Your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than live in the tents of wickedness. -Psalm 84:10 (NASB)
All of us will serve one master or another. Christ offers us freedom from the destruction and guilt of serving ourselves. Serving Him brings joy out of this world.
Where does your allegiance lie? Who do you serve?
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. Romans 6:17 (NIV)