The Joy of Slavery to God comes from knowing Jesus as the Messiah. (Cf. Phil. 1:1)
“Paul and Timothy,
bondservants of Christ Jesus, …”
Paul and Timothy describe themselves as Slaves of Christ Jesus. The name “Christ Jesus” inverts the typical way of talking about Jesus. Instead of Jesus Christ, the apostle writes Christ Jesus. It is as if he wants us to understand that a driving force in his life is the fact that he knows Jesus is the anointed one promised to Hebrew people throughout the 39 books of the Old Testament. He is more than willing to be known as the slave of the promised Messiah of the world.
That’s why he is not ashamed to describe himself as Douloi Christou, (Slave of Christ.) Now for Greeks, which is who the letter is addressed to, being called a slave was no compliment. The Greeks, like most Americans, had a strong aversion to bondage. For a Greek, like most Americans, personal freedom meant personal dignity. The more freedom one person had, the more status and dignity it was thought that they possessed.
Our’s is a culture that is taking that idea to absurd levels, especially post-baby-boomers. If you are under 32, my generation has bequeathed to you a terrible legacy. You are being fed a lie, every day, every hour by magazines, TV, popular films, radio, politicians and even, many of our schools, even, if we are honest, some parents and churches. And the message that is coming across loud and clear is . . .
Life is about expressing your unique individuality.
Anything that hinders that expression is bad, restrictive, antiquated, wicked, prudish, old fashioned, unprogressive and destructive.
The problem is, life is not about self-expression, it is about bringing glory to our Creator. I don’t expect non-Christians to understand that or live that way. But that is what the Bible says life is supposed to be all about. And that is something that Christians ought to know and live by. The trouble is, most Christians I know, seem to be more interested in self-expression than Christ-expression.
God gave you the body, the talents, the education, and the opportunities he has given to you not for self-expression but for the purpose of bringing greater glory to Him. He wants you to express Christ, not you. He wants me to express Christ, not me. He calls us to be Christ-ones in our world. He calls us to live a radically different kind of life. Jesus never took a “selfie.” I don’t think he ever would have either. Neither would Paul. Paul calls his life, the life he lives, the life of a bond-servant, a slave.
The word that is used is the word that denotes a compulsory and restrictive service. In other words, the person described as a slave is a person who is under compulsion to work for his master and is restricted to work for his master. For Paul however, whenever he used the term, he is describing a freely given service that has become for him a compulsion of love based on the love God has already expressed in Christ.
He designates himself a slave because of a relationship to his Lord that is based on the protection and guidance of God and the responding love of the servant who knows he belongs to God. You see Paul knows that he has been purchased by God, by Christ, by the blood of Christ and that his life is now God’s. This is why Paul writes the following to another group of Christians in another Roman city, Corinth:
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
Because he knows that he belongs to Christ Jesus, Messiah Jesus. He knows he belongs to the one who was promised and who is now resurrected from the dead after completing His mission of paying for yours and my sins. A Christian enjoys, yes enjoys, the fact that he is a slave to God.
He knows that a slave to God is an awesome instrument in the hand of God. He knows that his life is more than just showing up. He knows that his life has a purpose. He knows that there is substance to his life.
Paul and Timothy knew that they were instruments in the hands of God because they knew that they belonged to Jesus and that Jesus was the Messiah.
Do you know Jesus as the Messiah? Do you know that you belong to Him? Do you know that your sins are forgiven, all of them, past, present, and future—not on the basis of any merit or goodness in you, but on the basis of the death and shed blood of Christ in substitution for your death and separation from God forever? And now he, the Messiah, sends us on a mission to tell the world of his love and forgiveness.
If the greatest mind in the universe sends you on a mission,
how can it fail to be an adventure?
Men and women, if you don’t think that way, you have only added Jesus to your worldview. You haven’t allowed him to transform it. Let me put it in stronger terms. If you don’t think that way, you have a warped, sub-biblical, uninspiring and ultimately, unfulfilling view of God.
The point of discipleship is to destroy that view and replace it with a true, biblical, inspiring and fulfilling view of the Living Christ who can and will transform us into new creatures in Christ.