By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Sermon delivered in Spanish at El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, March 22, 2018.
Good evening. For those who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor and Christian author. My wife, Maryam, and I live in Centreville, VA and we have three grown children.
Today we continue our study of collaborators of the Gospel. I will be discussing the question: In what sense are we slaves of Christ. (2X)
We give praise that you created us in your image and love us as your children. We especially present in this time and this place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our praise and work here in Georgetown South. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
Today’s scripture less comes from the Book of Genesis 1:26-27. Here the word of the Lord:
Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 ESV)
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Allow me to begin with a bit of history from my own walk with the Lord.
My son, Reza, was born in August 1992 while I worked as a bank examiner with the Farm Credit Administration in McLean, Virginia. I normally traveled with the examination team four nights a week. For this reason and to facilitate breast feeding, my wife moved Reza’s crib into our bedroom
One Saturday night in October at 2 in the morning, Reza went into convulsions. As a ten-week old baby, it was not very obvious or very loud, but Maryam knew immediately that somethings was not right and we called 9-11 for emergency assistance. Reza was taken to Fair Oaks Hospital and then transferred to Fairfax Hospital. For the entire day, we did not know what had happened, but by Sunday evening they discovered that he had been born with only one kidney and that kidney’s duct had folded over on itself. He needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and was moved again to Georgetown University Hospital.
Alone with my son before terrifying surgery, I was stressed out and emotional. For the first time in my life, I began to negotiate with God for the life of my son. I prayed to God: do not take my son; take me. (2X)
Ten years later, my son was healthy and God reminded me of the promise in my prayer. At that point, I began to seek a seminary. When I say that I am a slave of Christ, I have both personal and biblical reasons. As someone bought and paid for with acts of grace and mercy, I am a slave of Christ. (2X)
In the ancient world there were two types of kings. A local king, who ruled a small kingdom, and a king of kings who possessed a much larger kingdom. In effect, a king of kings had many kingdoms each established through conquest and delegated to his subordinates, who had local kingdoms.
In today’s text we see this same model of kings. Returning to the Garden of Eden, we see God creating us in his image and giving us dominion—
over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 ESV)
In this passage, God was described as a King of kings, who established a new kingdom in creation for his subordinates, Adam and Eve.
So why do we care? (2X)
We care because since the beginning we were created as servants of God and as slaves totally dependent on our creator and king of kings, God. Since the beginning, we were slaves of God. (2X)
Servants and Slaves
From the beginning, we were not content to be servants or slaves of God. Immediately after creation, Adam and Eve want a promotion and following the suggestion of Satan eat “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17 ESV). This act was directly against the will of God, constituted an alliance with Satan, and was an act of rebellion against the kingdom of God.
The title, slave of God, appears the first time in the Book of Joshua 1:1-2:
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (Jos. 1:1-2 ESV)
In these two verses, it reads in the Hebrew “slave of the Lord”, but most of the time it is translated in English and Spanish as servant of the Lord.
This same interpretative tension exists in the translation of Paul when he uses this same title in Romans 1:1:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1 ESV)
In this case as well, the original Greek reads slave of Christ, but in English and Spanish the translation reads servant of Christ. This translation is politically correct. But because we are bought and paid for with the blood of Christ, the better translation is slave of Christ, as the Greek says. We are slaves of Christ. (2X)
Servant or Slave?
The older folks here probably remember a hymn: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, which makes the point found in Hebrews 9:13-14:
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Heb 9:13-14 ESV)
We were bought and paid for with the death of Christ on the cross. Thus, we are slaves of Christ. (2X)
In summary, we are slaves of Christ. But why is this important?
When our identities are in Christ before other things we have new priorities. First, life is much easier. We are not slaves of our spouses, families, work, or any other things that a hard life can take from us. We have liberty in Christ to live within God’s will and are not slaves of any other person.
For example, our marriages are still important, just not ultimately important. In fact, it is much easier to respect our spouses when they are our love and not our masters. The same is true of our kids, parents, and other people. We are equal under Christ and are responsible to love one another as we love ourselves, as the Apostle Paul taught (Eph 6:1-9). Love is more precious because it can never be obligatory.
There are at least three other reasons why we want to accept this title of slave of Christ.
First, the first commandment says: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exod 20:3 ESV) Note that it does not say no other gods, except for your love, your work, your favorite sports team, and other things.
Second, if we have something other than God as our first priority, bad things can happen. A workaholic without work, for example, is a good candidate for suicide, as we witness every day in this rich society.
Third, God loves us more than anyone else. It would be foolish to disrespect this love. We are slaves of Christ by the grace of God.
Thank you for the forgiveness that Easter brought with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you that in Christ we are slaves of your love and kings in your creation. In the power of your Holy Spirit, give us the strength to live in your truth this day and every day. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
Slave of Christ
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018