The relationship between a dog and its owner is often used to exemplify devotion – to the extreme, the whipped dog that still comes back. However sitting here of a morning watching owners walking their dogs, I get a different story.
Owners walk across the sands when the tide is out, throwing a ball for their dog to catch. Often their dog enthusiastically chases after the ball, time and time again. But I also see the dogs that start to run off – then stop, either bored, tired or distracted by something more interesting. I see dogs that will happily go into the waves to fetch a ball – but also others who stop at the edge, looking back at their master (who sometimes, to my amusement, end up taking off socks and shoes to wade in and retrieve the ball, watched by their dog…!)
Most often the word Scripture uses that we translate “servant” actually means slave. The slave/master relationship is one that makes us uncomfortable in our modern lives. But really and truly it is the right one to fit our relationship with God. We were, after all, bought with a price. Redeemed. Our debt paid for. Owned. Representative of a relationship you can’t just walk away from.
Does that make you uncomfortable? It shouldn’t! It should make you rejoice!
“For he who is called in the Lord while a servant is the Lord’s freeman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s servant. You were bought at a price. Do not be the servants of men”. (1 Corinthians 7:22-23 MEV)
It doesn’t matter who we were or where we were when we found Christ. Only in Him are we truly free. Free from the slavery of this world. No longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), to the vagaries of the crowd, free from the snares around us (Psalm 124:7).
Instead we owe it all, our freedom, our life, to Christ.
Maybe if we could get our Westernised, sanitised, modern heads around this we would behave differently. I would behave differently. God gave me free will and I chose to give my life to Him. I volunteered to be a slave! I accepted His offer to purchase me!
Frankly it doesn’t take very long meditating on this to realise I have got a bargain.
I have known God all my life but I haven’t walked in His ways for all those years. I have sinned. I have fallen WAY short. I know what I’ve done. I know what the consequences should be. I know what He has paid for. I know the punishment that is rightly mine. I am very aware what I have been saved from. Grace is the largest Truth in my life as I did not come as a repentant sinner to the cross, but, as I often put it, I did all my sinning as a Christian. Willfully, knowingly, guiltily – AFTER I had accepted His payment for my sins.
I don’t think I’d treat a slave who behaved like that as well as He treats me!
What a redeemer! He may have bought me but, even if we get past the incredible price He paid, look how He now treats me now – not as a slave but as a SON.
“Now a slave does not remain in the house forever, but a son remains forever” (John 8:35 MEV)
“So when we were children, we were in bondage to the elements of he world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born from a woman, born under law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, crying “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:3-7 MEV)
So, purchased and a bond servant – my debt paid, my life His, owned, bought, indebted. But wait, even now my free will remains! More so, because I am now living free from the debt, free from penalty, but now I am no longer a slave in any sense because He now adopts me.
That is a whole new relationship. In His House, part of His family, not treated as a slave but as a son.
Wait – there’s more: I’m now an heir! Not only in this life do I enjoy the benefits of being in His family (all the promises to Abraham being mine) but eternally – I inherit His kingdom. A co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). Not like Biblical earthly families where only the firstborn inherited, not like our modern families where a Will can leave the inheritance to anyone (or anything) on a whim, disowning blood relatives. No, we are equal heirs with Christ (may I encourage you to take the time to read this excellent sermon from C H Spurgeon on this specific point – the “will and testament” of God as it were).
You see as Christians we all “know” this, but it is only when you approach it right, when you start from the position of a relationship where we were as slaves to this world (and by default, to the ruler of this age, the devil) that you can feel the real impact of the Truth of our redemption and adoption.
[It is something I’m pondering much at the moment – how our modern view dulls us to the riches and truths of Scripture. We spend so much time bringing the Word “up to date” that we are in danger of missing the point. Yes of course the analogies of the day are historical, yes we need that context, but I fear we most often throw the baby out with the bath water as it were and in our pursuit of modern translations and interpretations, we lose the impact of many of the Scriptures. For every Scripture I read in “The Message” or Passion translation that opens my eyes in a new way, there are verses that I miss the depths of precisely because I don’t read the original, historical analogies.]
Ponder today with me, on your relationship with God.
Dog and master? Servant and master? Slave and owner? Adopted? Family?
I encourage you to think on those various analogies, to truly seek to grasp the depths and breadth of what He has done for us, and to celebrate the freedom and riches that we now have as heirs with Christ.