by Kim Josephson
When Paul and the apostles introduced themselves in the epistles, they often referred to themselves as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word they chose to describe this was “doulos”. It refers to a special kind of servant. A bond-servant. A servant by choice. A servant because of love. Literally a LOVE-SLAVE.
In the Hebrew economy a man could sell himself into slavery, however, on the seventh year he was to be released. If the slave loved his master he could dedicate himself to his master for life. To do this he would present himself to the priest who would take an awl and pierce the slave's ear, identifying him with his master forever. He was then a bond-slave or love-slave for life. (Ex. 21)
This is how the apostles thought of themselves - as bond-slaves. They chose not to identify themselves as “sons of God” or “special anointed messengers” or anything else. Instead they chose to identify themselves as slaves of Jesus - Slaves of Love.
Theologically it was right on. They were redeemed (bought back) from satan's dominion by the blood of God's only begotten Son. Now they were owned by God. Nothing held back -nothing kept for themselves. They were God's property. They were the property of Jesus.
Now to understand the significance of this distinction one must realize that to own Jesus as ones master meant certain persecution which could include imprisonment or even death. This was the reality of a commitment to Christ. It was not a “Jesus as my Savior and not my Lord proposition”. Instead, it was totally sold out - dead unto sin and self and alive unto God. It meant a daily experience of taking up ones cross and following the Master - no matter what!
This was not seen as some sort of lofty plateau of Christian specialization - it was “your reasonable service”. (Rom. 12:1) What it cost the disciple was not even considered. What it cost God was the consideration! There was no thought of sacrifice in terms of “giving up” the things of this world - its pleasures and fleshly appetites. The sacrifice was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The sacrifice was His precious blood. How dare one call himself a Christian and be owned by this world! It was inconceivable in the minds of the apostles. They knew that they were not their own. They knew that they were bought with a price - and they lived like it.
Today there is such confusion. The Church hobbles along - unsure - unsteady - tossed to and fro by various “winds of doctrine”. We are crippled by compromise and afraid of absolutes. Consequently we find ourselves moving in hope and calling it faith, living on emotion and calling it anointing.
In a recent newsletter I dared to proclaim that we were not in the midst of a “great revival”. Though there were many who were offended when they first heard these words, in the light of the recent scandals it is easy to see that respect for the ministry is at an all-time low in the USA and around the world. The detractors of the Church are now having a field day as they watch Christians bite and devour one another. Net effect? Jesus' blood is trampled under foot. The Church is divided and the world wags on in its negligence of a Holy God and His demands. This confusion is obviously not revival. But can this confusion come to an end?
Yes, but only if we embrace the commitment of the early Church. Only if we are willing to embrace the cross - where we are crucified unto the world and the world is crucified unto us. (Gal 6:14) Only if we esteem Jesus and His blood of more worth than all the world. Only if we are willing to become Love Slaves of Jesus. It is time to stop arguing or even agreeing with God about what should be done and to simply go out and do what He said to do in the Name of Jesus. (see Mark 16:15)
Dear Church, don't be afraid to embrace Jesus. Don't be afraid of His Word and its demands. Dare to see yourself as His Love-Slave. Dare to proclaim His Holy Word without regard to any detractor's comments or criticisms. Stand tall as the SLAVE OF JESUS. He is a worthy master. He is a good master. C.T. Studd, missionary pioneer, said it best when he said, “If Christ be God and died for me then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him”. In Jesus name turn loose the things of this world and embrace the cross. Ask God to show you the vanity of this world and its pleasures. Ask Him to show you your life in the light of eternity.
Now more than ever the world needs to see the Church sold out to Jesus. They need to see men and women sent from God who are bright and shining lights for their King - men and women who are truly the Property of Jesus.
At the judgement seat of Christ there will be no greater honor than to be known as a Love-Slave of Jesus. Nothing else will matter. Oh for the grace to realize this and the heart to accept the challenge of it.