Sunday, February 12, 2017
A Kinder Word
When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Roman Christians, he identifies himself in the beginning as "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ..." (Romans 1:1) While I am no Greek scholar and while I am envious of one of my clergy friends who still reads his Greek New Testament, I do remember a few words from my seminary classroom where Greek was taught. So, when I read the word "servant" I remembered that a more literal translation is "slave." The word "servant" is a kinder, more gentle, and perhaps, more politically correct for ears that might be offended by the word "slave." No one wants to think of themselves according to our historical memories of slavery in this country.
But, still the truth remains. The word we often translate to mean "servant" is more accurately translated "slave." Of course, slavery was a part of Paul's world. And while the apostle may have been attempting to bring to mind some aspects of the institutional slavery which was a part of his culture, he was really going in a different direction as he spoke of being a slave of Jesus Christ. In Paul's word a slave had no choices. A slave always had to do the bidding of the master, or face consequences. It was not a world in which anyone would choose to live.
But, as Paul speaks of being a slave of Christ, he is going to a different place. A slave lives a life thrust upon him. There is no choice. What Paul points to is a choice not thrust upon us, but one chosen. A slave of Christ is one who chooses not to be a slave to sin and instead chooses to be a slave to righteousness. We choose to be a slave to one of those two masters. Sin or Christ. To one or the other we submit ourselves to live under our chosen authority. Slave to sin or slave to Christ. Choose this day whom you will serve.