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« Do Business Practices Belong in the Church? | Main | Learning to BE Church: An Interview with a House-Church Team, part 1 »

August 09, 2004

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You remind me of a practice a few of my girlfriends in college adopted (and this was WAY before the day of multiple body piercings!) - that of having an additional piercing in one ear as a personal symbol of their commitment to serving Christ. This came from the concept from the old testament that I found summarized here "Under Jewish law, no Hebrew was to be the permanent slave of another Hebrew (Ex. 21:2; Lev. 25:37-43; Deut. 15:12). If a slave desired to continue with his master, he would have a mark made in the ear to signify that he had chosen to remain a slave (Ex. 21:5-6)."

This was a picture that spoke to me - that even though I had the option to choose a different way, I could choose to submit myself to Christ, to serve and follow Him all my life. This is what being a "Slave of Christ" says to me.

Chris,

You are posting great questions lately. We seem to be dealing with a lot of the same issues.

3 things we must give up:

1. Rugged individualism - Slaves work as a team and are interdependent in the household. (I've talked about this plenty on other sites, so I'll be sketchier here.)

2. Privacy - Where did we get the idea that being a slave of Christ meant we could keep others out of our private sphere? Many churches today do not publish personal member information in order to keep people's privacy intact. What that means is that we cannot rely on each other since we know nothing about others, especially in a big church. I personally think that not only should a church directory always exist, but that it list professions, workplaces, hobbies, talents, and interests.

3. Ownership of our selves - Our lives are now the Lord's. A slave does not get to determine his own fate. Too many Christians have all their life and goals laid out just so, but who says that's what the Lord wants?

3 things we need to practice:

1. Humility & submission to the Lord - Sadly lacking as we pursue our own ends.

2. Prayer - The Master tells the slave what to do--if the slave will listen. Not listening leads to chastening.

3. Hard work - The life of a slave is not one of leisure, but we have let our lifestyles reflect that of the world and not that of our Master.

Good thoughts, Dan. I especially appreciated your comments about privacy -- a characteristic of individualism which has been pretty effective at eroding/eliminating what little koinonia we might have been experiencing. :(

Thanks so much for this post, you really made me think.

Thanks so much for this post, you really made me think.

It all depends on what kind of lense you look through.

"What practices, attitudes, or values would many (or most) of us need to give up in order to better live as slaves of Christ?"

We have to give up being a slave to everything else in order to be a true slave and servant of Christ or righteousness.

"And finally, is slave-related terminology so loaded and negative, that we need to look for other ways to describe the attitude and lifestyle that the New Testament seems to encourage?"

I guess the term slavery is harshly taken because we depict it in its worst conception. In those times, I believe slavery was more on the lines of servanthood instead of the slavery that took place in the US long ago, except in the case of Pharoah.

It seems to me it boils down to choice though. I choose to be a slave to Christ, and it is His life that gives me the power and desire to make that choice. That choice is fluid, today it will look different than tomorrow, and surely it is always based on holy obediance.

I think slavery had more diverse forms in biblical times, though I'm sure it was as bad for some people then as it was in the US prior to the civil war.

Because of the US history with slavery, and the fact that it was a slavery of blacks rather than prisoners or debtors, maybe a better metaphor is needed for communication purposes. The term is pretty loaded, and it's loaded racially.

But the concept is one we all need to hear. Die to self. Take up your cross. Don't set it down. Follow Jesus.

Thanks for the reminder.

Slaves took on the family name of their masters. In essence, they no longer had the identity they were born with, but took on a new identity, the master's identity. So slavery has in it this concept of emptying ourselves, just as Christ emptied himself to become a man.

I see this issue of emptying ourselves as one of the principle hindrences modern Christians encounter in their efforts to discover a 1st-century faith. We hang on to our baggage and bring it along on our walk with Christ. A slave was often naked when he was purchased, and came to his master utterly poor and utterly dependent on his master's kindness and providence.

Naked. Purchased. Poor. Dependent. -- Good observations, Charlie.

Hi, I'm new.

Okay, I agree that we ought to be completely submissive to Christ. So much so, that there is nothing of us left (ideally speaking). In fact, isn't this the portrait of God's desire, for humanity to be wholly engulfed in God so much that they are Christ on earth. Isn't that the "kingdom come" in the lord's prayer? I think so. So, it is God's desire for us to be enacting God's will.

BUT,

Isn't God's desire also for humanity to be ultimately free? Like Anne Spencer Morrow said "Him that I love, I wish to be free--even from me." Isn't this the basis of the Free Will Defence to Theodicy? I have always held that Free Will is THE thing gift from God that keep's the world together. God MUST desire our freedom for the universe God created to work.

So, can a slave of Christ's be truly free? I know the truth (and living in it) sets one free, but is true free will really embodied in living out God's will?

let me know what you guys think?

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, Jakers. "Slaves of Christ being free" -- this is yet one more of the beautiful tensions of our faith. It's enigmatic; counter-intuitive... just the stuff that our Enlightenment-influenced brains need!

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