My sermon notes from the June 30, 2013 sermon “Be a Slave?” from the series “Tough Teachings of Jesus”. You can hear the podcast on the Adventure website.
Be a Slave?
Intro: Pastors, church staff and church leaders revealed in a recent survey that some of the most difficult challenges they face each week are church member’s apathy, inward focus and the inability to motivate and keep volunteers in ministries. If “we” (meaning Christians) just understood and took to heart this one “Tough Teaching” from Jesus, it would go a long way toward eliminating those challenges.
Mark 10: 43-45 — “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus tells his disciples, and us, that to be “great”, we must first become a slave — a slave to Jesus Christ and His purposes!
The Christian Paradox
This scripture, and teaching, reveals another aspect of the “Christian Paradox”. A paradox is what seems backwards, inside-out, upside-down. A paradox is not the natural way we think of things. The Bible is full of them. Examples: to live you must die, to be rich you must be generous, to lead you must follow, and, to be first you must be a slave.
What Are the Characteristics of the Christian Paradox: Be a Slave?
No one is going to make you do it. The word “slave” means “bondslave”, which is a voluntary position of servitude.
It’s a Choice
You can say “yes” or “no”, but not both, and not neither. — note: saying “no” is obviously a rejection of doing what the master wants. But, we need to also realize that failure to say “yes” (i.e., sitting on the fence, or trying to remain neutral) is also saying “no.”
Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….” — note: while Jesus was teaching on the love of money in this scripture, the principle remains the same: we cannot not be both devoted to the things of God and the things of “something else”.
It Means Submitting to the Master’s Will
Submission to God’s will and not your own will is the characteristic of a slave. God is our master. Submission to His will is going to require us to sacrifice. We will have to sacrifice our comfort, our desire, our time, our energy, our money, and our priorities to what He wants. We will be asked to do things that we may not want to do. We will be asked to do things that we would rather not do sometimes. But “slavery” to the will of God is doing what He wants, not what we want. — This will become real in our lives as we serve in ministries in the church, as we allow our lives to molded in His holiness, and as we live a life as directed by the Bible.
Luke 22:42 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” — As Jesus prayed this on the night before He was crucified, Jesus gave a perfect example of what it means to submit to the will of God first, and to be willing to sacrifice everything.
It Requires Action Toward Others
Saying yes. Declaring your intention to do something. Wanting to submit to God’s will. — All of those things are great. But they are all meaningless without action. There is a big difference between saying you are going to do something and actually doing it. We only reveal ourselves as “slaves of Jesus” when we actually act on what we say and what is in our heart.
Colossians 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, …. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Remember that when you serve that you are not just serving another person, you are actually serving Jesus Christ, your master. You are connecting to Him by way of the Holy Spirit as you submit yourself to Him and you are connecting another to Him as you represent the hands and feet of Christ to that person.
If all of our church would allow our hearts to be transformed by this one truth, we would make an impact for the Kingdom that would be beyond our imagination!