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Monday, 6 December 2010

Christian Slaves

Christian Slaves?
A report on some new atrocity against the church? No, a question that arises out of Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Christians are free? Christians are slaves? Christians are free? Christians are slaves? Which is it? Remarkably, according to Paul, it's both!

Christians are free!
Believers are radically free. We can do anything we want (except sin). In particular we are free from the Jewish law - which even the Jews found impossible to bear. The Old Testament law was like a vine whose tentacles found their way into every nook and cranny of life. You could scarcely move without either obeying or disobeying some law. Imagine the burden of tithing, which the Pharisees extended to their herb gardens. Give ten percent to the temple. Well, one year 34 stalks of Basil come up, that's 3.4 stalks for the temple. Should you round down to 3 or round up to 4? If you round down, will your conscience trouble you for having broken the tithe law? What a burden, what slavery, what a heavy, heavy load.

But for people without the Spirit to control them, law is essential; without it you have anarchy and extinction. But imagine the burden of the law. So much time spent on making sure you obeyed it and so much time worrying if you hadn't and so much more time sacrificing for breaking it. What a time-consuming, energy-sapping joy-busting drag...

Jesus has set us free from all of that! And it is for freedom that he has set us we are free. We must never allow ourselves to come under law again (Galatians 5:1); not Jewish law, not church law, not tradition law......

Christians are slaves
But how then should we use all our vast time and resources and energy? How should we use our new freedom? We have a choice, well sort of choice. Either we will use it to gratify the sinful nature -  go with the flow of our fallen natures, but that is not much of a choice, for if our facebook accounts mirror the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19), we will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Or else we will use our new found freedom to become a new kind of slave. A slave of others, now driven not by fear or necessity or law, but driven by love. Instead of spending all our time in exhausting devotion to the law of Moses, we will spend our time in the joyful service of others.

Not slaves to law, but slaves to others out of love.

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