January 12, 2010

From Slave To Sent

Recently I heard a sermon looking at the book of Romans. As I was listening & reading along with the preacher, I noticed something that Paul did that is a little different from the rest of his letters, & that got me thinking. In Romans 1:1 Paul identifies himself to the Roman believers, whom he had not yet met. He first refers to himself as a "slave of Jesus Christ." Then he identifies himself as "called to be an apostle." Normally, Paul only identifies himself as an apostle. Why is it different here?

Maybe it's because the idea of being a slave would have been revolutionary to his audience. Neither the Roman nor Jewish Christians in Rome would have embraced the idea of being a slave. Jews took pride in that they were once slaves but God had set them free, & of course Romans weren't slaves; they were the masters. So for a leader like Paul, a Jew & a Roman citizen himself, to identify himself primarily as a slave would have been borderline offensive & would have surely challenged the norm for these believers.

I think Paul saw his calling as an apostle to be a result of his identity as a slave. The word he uses for slave communicates the idea of someone choosing to serve their master & who completely belongs to their master. Until we choose to exclusively serve Jesus, we cannot really serve one another in a way that leaves an eternal impact. After all, an apostle was someone sent by his master. You must choose who you will serve before you can be sent.

What other masters threaten to lead you away from serving Jesus? How have those "masters" derailed your ability to serve & to lead others toward Jesus?

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