By John Fischer
I am a servant; I am listening for my call…” Larry Norman
The Apostle Paul loved to call himself a slave of Christ. This is the highest form of servitude—one in which the servant has no rights but to do the will of the master. What made this unique was the fact that this position was held with great joy and privilege. This is hard for us to understand in a culture where slavery is such a bad word. But to be a slave of Christ is a whole different thing than to be a slave of a wicked taskmaster.
Paul is happy to be a slave of Christ for at least two reasons. 1) God is a loving God who treats him with dignity. This “slavery” is the opposite of demeaning; it is uplifting and places him as one who has been entrusted with the secret things of God (1 Corinthians 4:1). Even amidst the abuses of slavery in this country there were stories of privileged slaves who were treated with dignity and given responsibility over their master’s estate. Some of these chose to remain as servants even after being emancipated. This would be something of the position Paul is speaking of.
And 2) to serve Christ is the good and natural response to God’s forgiveness and grace. Once we realize all that we receive from God is a free gift—that God found us in our sin and picked us up, forgave us and gave us new life—serving God is the natural response of a heart and a life set free.
This spiritual servitude only has negative connotations in a culture that is obsessed with asserting the rights of the individual. Civil rights, human rights, gay rights, minority rights—we hear about this constantly. Instead of asserting our rights—even if we have the freedom to do so—we are choosing to set them aside for a greater thing: the opportunity to serve the living God. What are you setting aside in order to serve God?
In the end, we either serve God or try to be god by having everyone serve us. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)