A short while ago one of our readers, Dave, was bothered when I quoted someone, in my post entitled Panic as saying, "I obey him because I am a slave and he is a King."
I've come back and re-read this post a couple of times, not commenting because I didn't want to seem negative. But I realize that I like it, on my blog, when people disagree.
I have to say, the 'I obey him because he is a king and I am a slave' really really really bothers me. I don't think God asks for subserviance or a King / Slave relationship as it exists in this world.
I have always believed that Jesus stood up to those in power - as necessary and questioned authority - as was his mission. I worship God as a free man, not as a slave. I give God my love as a free man, not as a peon. I give God my praise as a free man, not as a sycophant.
I think asking any person who has ever been enslaved - in this life on this earth - you will not hear words of love about their 'king'. I wonder if this kind of language diminishes the experience of many and serves only to be a boastful kind of self depreciation. You know I love this blog and I'm only writing this because that really really got to me.
I tried to reply in the blog post entitled, For My Friend. It was my attempt at using story to make the point, but I think that I was so indirect that the point was not well made. And so I've continued to think on and off about how to explain what I think the person meant.
As a writer I have failed when I plonk a statement such as the one about slavery, out there without context or elaboration so I am glad that Dave made the point that it bothered him, because if it bothered him, it probably bothered others.
There is a good explanation of what lay behind the statement I quoted, on another blog:
http://www.xenos.org/teachings/topical/wisdom/gary/wisdom-2.htm The title of the piece in the link is, The "Backward" Wisdom of God; Freedom and Slavery. The writer, Gary DeLashmutt, makes the point that "key biblical truths often seem backward, counter-intuitive, contrary to common sense--even crazy..." He goes on to write about Freedom from Slavery; Freedom for Slavery, and Freedom through Slavery.
I recommend that people check out Gary's article, because it is excellent and he does a wonderful job of explaining, much better than I could, the fact that we are freed from the yoke of sin by Christ--the bondage of knavery, if you like; freed from slavery to the law and to other people. Yes, as Dave wrote, we are free.
But although we are free, Christ calls us to freely become his slaves out of love for him. The "backward" wisdom of God, indeed. In fact, he himself took on the form of a servant:
Philippians 2:5-7 (The Message)
5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Galatians 5:13 (New International Version)
13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
1 Peter 2:16 (New Living Translation)
16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.
Dave--does it make more sense now? I hope so!