Friday, September 14, 2012

Bondservants


Some ministers seem to think that ministry is a job.  What I mean is that they feel they can clock in and clock out of whatever ministry of which they are involved.  If they are a worship leader, they are only a worship leader when they are leading worship.  If they are a Sunday School teacher, the are only a Sunday School teacher when they are in a room full of kids at church.  If they are a pastor, they are only a pastor to their congregation and only when on official "ministry" business.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Ministry is a calling and we all have some calling in ministry.  Ministry is not something we do, but something we are.  It is not something you turn off and turn on whether or not you are acting in some kind of official capacity as a minister.  It is who are are, always.  If defines our lives and how we interact with others, always.  Again, it is not what we do but who we are.  And what are we?
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated to the gospel of God  Romans 1:1 NKJV
Maybe you think that Paul was only speaking about himself and not about us.  Well ..
Imitate me, just as I also [imitate] Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
God tells us through Paul that we are to imitate Paul.  Paul refers to himself (and other Christians) as bondservants of Christ.  Another word for bondservant is slave.  We are slaves to God.  In fact, Romans 6:22 calls us slaves of God.
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  Romans 6:22 NKJV
The fact is that we are slaves of God.  I know many pastors do not like to teach this as it puts a damper on their message of licentiousness, but it is Scriptural fact.  A slave is an owned person.  A slave has no freedom outside what his master allows.  A slave has no personal time, personal space, or personal possessions. Everything a slave has is at the mercy of his master.  For us, that master is God.  Now God is not those harsh slave masters we read about, but a benevolent master only looking out for our interests.  We are slaves of God because we chose to be slaves of God when we accepted Jesus.  The idea of a bondservant is not someone forced into slavery, but one who gave his or her self willingly out of love and respect for their master.  Here is the Scriptural reference to the idea of a bondservant.
But if the servant plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,' then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.  Exodus 21:5-6 NKJV
A bondservant is one who chooses not to be free and freely gives his or her life to their master.  We do so with God and in so doing we serve Him forever.  This negates any idea that ministry is something we turn on and off.  There is no such thing as a day off or a time to let loose and forget your faith and your witness for a while.  Believe it or not, this actually happens in the church.  There are Christians who feel they are entitled to let loose and fail to remember that they are always ministers of the gospel.   While I am specifically addressing leaders in the church, everyone is called to some kind of ministry and calling yourself a Christian means you are a slave to Jesus.  There is no idea of letting loose, or getting drunk, being worldly, or just acting like a fool because we are always supposed to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ.  That is what it means to be a slave.  It means you have no life outside your service to your Master.  That is what you chose when you chose Jesus as your Lord. 

The fact is that we have leaders in the church who seem to feel that can separate their ministry from the rest of their lives.  If you are a leader, you have an even higher standard.  That is why the requirements for being a Bishop have so much to do with who you are outside of church.  It is because that is a testimony to your character in Jesus Christ.  Anyone can turn it on for a couple of hours on a Sunday, but those whose entire lives are a good testimony of their faith and service of Jesus are those that are called to lead in church.  You are called to be an example, always.  You are not supposed to date the unsaved if your are single.  You are not supposed to re-draw the line of what defines chastity before marriage.  You are not supposed to get drunk and party like the world does.  You are not supposed to dress inappropriately and speak of inappropriate things.  You are not supposed to use inappropriate language.  You are not supposed to treat others with any kind of disrespect.  What you are supposed to do is model the Christian behavior described by God and when you fail (all of us fail from time to time) you are supposed to be humble yourself and come clean and work to repent of those actions. 

Maybe that seems unfair, but that is only if you look at your calling from a selfish perspective.  The honor of your service to God is not God's, it is yours.  God did not get lucky because you chose to use your singing voice, musical talent, teaching ability, and charismatic speaking for His service.  God used a talking ass to admonish a prophet and that talking ass's words are enshrined in Scripture for all eternity.  Can you say that any of your words will lever be part of Scripture?  I didn't think so.  The fact is that if you feel serving God is a chore, then you really are looking at things in a very, very wrong way.  Serving God is an honor and a privilege and serving God in a high office in a church is a very, very high honor.  Live life like your service in an honor.  Appreciate the calling that God has called you to knowing that God will give you the strength to live that ministry in your whole life.  God will give you whatever you need to fulfill the ministry He has called you to.  You can either be a slave to sin, leading to death, or you can be a slave of God, leading to everlasting life and peace and joy in this life.   You can not have both.
I speak in human [terms] because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members [as] slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness [leading] to [more] lawlessness, so now present your members [as] slaves [of] righteousness for holiness.  Romans 6:19 NKJV

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