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Our Forgotten Slavery

I Corinthians 7:22 says, "And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ."

As a white pastor in a diverse culture, I avoid talking about slavery whenever possible. Unfortunately, the scriptures are FULL of references to it, both direct references and indirect references. Some of them are OK, others...a little more challenging to address.

For example, I like the first part of verse 22. I was a slave to sin, to self, to society, etc., but Jesus set me free! Awesome! But then he made me a slave again? A slave to Christ?

When reading slavery references in the Bible, I try to use the word "servant" instead of slave and some translations make that easy for me. I also try to explain that some implementations of first century slavery were more like boss-employee relationships or that people sometimes sold themselves into indentured servitude since the Romans didn't have the same bankruptcy options we have today, etc., etc.

But the fact remains that verses like the one above are still plentiful and they defy the easy explanations I sometimes attempt. Paul presents slavery as good when it comes to Christ. And, he has his reasons. As I've studied this more, I see those reasons and frankly, I'm embarrassed to say that I've missed sharing those to the detriment of people I've shepherded.

For example, is it not true that we are literally bought with a price--the blood of Christ (I Cor. 6:20)? Is it not true that we are to serve Christ as our ultimate Lord and Master (Jude 1:4, Galatians 2:20, etc.)? Do we not serve Him? Does he not provide our sustenance, our protection, our objectives, our life??

Yes to all. When we commit our lives to Christ, we cease to be the masters of our own destinies. We are free...but we're also enslaved to a benevolent, loving Master. Perhaps the fact that we forget that explains why we often see Christians living just like the world. We see believers who instead of having decades of growth and spiritual life, have just one year of faith repeated over and over and over again. Knowing that we are literally owned by Christ can keep us in-synch with him. Literally hundreds of scriptures point us to this reality, maybe to hep us mature by reminding us that we are chained to the one who set us free from harmful bondage and then lead us toward perfection.

So, I'm going to do my best to recapture my own "Forgotten Slavery," while helping others remember theirs as well. Together, we can live-out our calling to grow and serve the one who paid the price.

To that end,

Pastor Joel

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