“Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus…” Romans 1:1
From the moment Paul encountered the living Jesus on the road to Damascus, he not only became a changed person, but he also became a slave of Christ. Not just a follower, but a slave. There’s a big difference between a follower and a slave. Lots of people followed Jesus during his time on earth and many of them eventually walked away. A follower can do that. A slave cannot. A slave doesn’t even belong to himself. He belongs to his master. In fact, he’s the property of his master. We’re not comfortable talking about masters and slaves or describing people as property. These words and concepts are definitely taboo and toxic today, but slaves and masters were extremely common in Paul’s day and he had no problem assigning such a demeaning and humiliating label to himself. He was proud to do so! Paul viewed his relationship to Christ solely through the lens of obedience and his response was whatever you tell me to do Lord, I will do it.
My grandfather was a preacher and growing up, I would often hear him say from the pulpit that the only answer we should have for God is “Yes, Lord”. There is no “maybe” or “we’ll see” for a slave in his master’s house. Only “Yes, Lord.” But this can be such a difficult response for us when God is asking us to do something we don’t feel like doing or want to do.
Some years ago my wife and I had an opportunity to help a married couple - followers of Jesus - through some problems they were having. Not easy problems. These two were no longer in love, in fact they weren’t even in like! We explained and they understood that they basically had 3 options: get a divorce, stay together and be miserable, or stay together and try to make things better. They both agreed that divorce was not an option, but even though they separately wanted things to be better, together they could not find the willpower or take the personal responsibility to do anything about it. They were both waiting for the other person to do his or her part. That’s when we reminded them that they are not just followers of Christ, but servants and as servants, they must obey Christ’s commands. What are His commands to husbands and wives?
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”
Ephesians 5:22, 25-33
There comes a time when your SLAVERY TO CHRIST must define your relationship to Him. This is the part of Christianity that’s hard and when I say hard I’m not talking about being persecuted or thrown into jail for your faith, I’m talking about hard because it requires you to do something you don’t want to do or feel like doing. But you have to do it anyway because Christ commands it and so like a servant you say YES, LORD, and you do it. YOU DO IT. No one said being a Christian is easy. But the greatest and most rewarding benefits are always on the side of obedience - when a marriage is restored, love is rediscovered, romance rekindled, and joy returns to a home - and then comes eternal life!
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22