Advent Reflection: A Slave of Christ Jesus
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.
Paul begins his letter to the Roman Christians by identifying himself as “a slave of Christ Jesus.” The use of the word “slave” in the New Living Translation may seem odd to you, even extreme. The vast majority of English translations prefer the word “servant.” But the Greek original of Romans contains the word doulos, which means “slave.” It was used to refer to someone who was owned by a master. The Message captures the sense of the Greek by having Paul identify himself as “a devoted slave of Jesus Christ.”
Like Paul, you and I are slaves of Christ. It’s hard for us to hear this language in the way it was once intended, given the shameful history of slavery in the United States. Nevertheless, we mustn’t ignore the fact that we are not servants hired by an employer, but slaves who belong to a master. He purchased us, not with money, but with his own blood. Thus we belong to one who has given everything for us, who loves us and wants the very best for us. Our slavery is not bondage so much as “a better freedom,” to use Michael Card’s apt phrase.
As we begin a new year, perhaps we should pause to ask ourselves who will be our master this year. Will we be slaves to reputation? To money? To security? To work? To family? To alcohol? Or will we live as slaves of Christ, serving him in all things, and discovering what it means to live in the freedom of his grace.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Who is your master in life, really? Or, perhaps it would be better to say, who are your masters? Have you experienced the “better freedom” that comes with being a slave of Christ? How might you live differently this year if you were to acknowledge Jesus as your sole master?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, my Master, I’m reminded by Paul that I am not just your servant, but your slave. You purchased me with your own blood, offering your life for mine. So I belong to you because of this gracious gift.
I must confess there is something in me that resists seeing myself as your slave. I want to run my own life, to be the master. Thus it’s hard for me to submit to you, even though I know you want the very best for me. Forgive me, Lord, when I become the master of my own life. Forgive me for being afraid to submit my life to you.
As I begin this new year, may I do so as your slave. May I offer myself fully to you each day, living with you as my master. In so doing, may I discover the “better freedom” that you offer to me.
To you be all the glory, my Master! Amen.