The Man Behind the Christian Magna Carta, Part II

5 02 2013

romansHere’s the first way Paul chose to introduce himself to the Roman Christians.

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ…”

It reflects the truth that Paul was…

Magnificently captured by Christ: a glad and submissive slave.

Those are words you don’t hear put together very often: glad and submissive slave. This is ironic for a couple of reasons.

  • First, Paul was once a radical Jew who persecuted The Way and now claims allegiance to the Leader and chief figure of The Way: Jesus Christ. And he’s writing to a predominantly Gentile church. He could have introduced himself in so much more appealing terms: A Roman Citizen, A well-educated man, successful church planter, or accomplished writer. But instead he identifies himself with the crucified leader of what was considered by culture at large to be a radical religious sect of that day. Not only does he identify himself with Jesus, but he calls himself of bondservant of Jesus.
  • Second, It’s surprising because the Romans despised slavery and servitude. It’s estimated that at the time of Paul’s writing to the Romans that 50% of the one million people in Rome were either slaves or recently freed slaves. The Greek word for slave is “doulos.” Nobody wanted to be known as a doulos…especially not servants who served under compulsion…bond-slaves. Slavery equated to a loss of freedom and dignity.
  • Think about Paul’s introduction of himself in these terms. If you pick up a Christian book today you flip it open and you can begin to read firsthand about all of the accomplishments of the author of that book. He’s been a pastor for 20 years…he has a master’s degree in theology…he has doctorate in missions…he’s traveled to over 12 countries…and on and on it goes. Why do they do that in books? They do it so that we know that the author has authority and expertise to write. Paul writes seven verses to introduce himself to the Roman believers: The first word is Paul and the first verse is Paul’s description of himself, though it is more about Christ than Paul. The rest of the 7 verses are all about Jesus Christ.

So when he introduces himself first as a bondservant Paul is saying 3 things:

  • First, he is saying to the Roman Christians, “I’m one of you. I am first and foremost a Christ-follower…redeemed from the slave house of sin and captured by the risen Christ. Like you Romans, I’m in chains to Jesus Christ.” He was a man who was bought by another.
  • Second, he is saying, “My chief aim as a Christ-follower is service. I have given up all of my rights to my own life. I’m a marked man. I’m marked by Christ and my life belongs to Him. I am in this to serve. I may be a leader…I may be blessed with a great resume and the best education, but you can call me servant. “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) He was a man owned by another.
  • Third, he is saying, “I am Christ’s servant FIRST…I live to please Him. I live for an audience of One…and then I am your servant. I am writing to you first as a servant.” He was a man ruled by another.

As believers, our perspective will shape our attitudes and our attitudes will determine our effectiveness in carrying out our charges as Christ-followers.

In A.D. 110. Ignatius, overseer of the church in Antioch, was arrested and sent to Rome for preaching Christ. Facing martyrdom, he wrote this to the church at Rome.

 “Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing of visible or invisible things so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus.”

 When he was sentenced to be fed to lions, and could even hear their roaring, he said, “I am the wheat of Christ; I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread.”

Bondservants hold no rights to their lives. Their lives are bound up in the life of their master. Their lives are bound up in doing the will of their master.

That’s the spirit and attitude of the bondservant of Jesus Christ. Our lives are to be bound up in His life. If Jesus suffered we should expect to suffer. If Jesus was misunderstood then we should expect to be misunderstood. If Jesus was triumphant then we are triumphant. If Jesus died to self then we should die to self. If Jesus rejoiced in tribulation then we should rejoice in tribulation. If Jesus was spit upon then we should expect the same. If he was mocked then we’ll be mocked. Sounds like fun right? Sign me up!

Yet, there is no greater joy than to be called the servant of the King of kings, because if the Father rejoiced in Jesus and exalted Him and has bestowed upon Him the riches of eternity and lavished His grace upon the Son of God then guess what the Father will do for those who openly identify with Jesus Christ? He will rejoice in us, He will exalt us, He will bestow on us the riches of eternity and lavish His grace upon us for all of eternity.

Has your life been captured by the Savior? Is our identity wrapped up in who He is and what He has done? If we’re walking in faith then our lives have been captured by the Savior and what our Savior did we should do. There is nothing in this life that we will lose for the sake of Christ that God will not restore to us in the future.

 


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