Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jesus Is Lord

"Jesus is Lord" is the distinguishing mark of Christianity (1 Corinthians 12:3, Romans 10:9). His disciples, enemies, and even casual followers heard the same message.

Jesus introduced the slave metaphor and drew direct connections between slavery and discipleship (Matthew 10:24-25, Matthew 25:21). He made no effort to adjust his message to make it more palatable to the worldly-minded. Those who tried to change the terms of discipleship were turned away (Luke 9:59-62).

How then do we understand John 15:14-15?
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
The fundamental principle here is still obedience. Note it: "You are my friends if you do what I command you".

He's not suggesting that we earn His favor through service. He is saying that obedience is a true proof that someone is His friend. Obedience is the natural fruit of one who loves Him--a definite mark of saving faith in Him.

Is He telling them their relationship had somehow changed in verse 15? Is He indicating that they are now familiar, personal colleagues of His? Is He teaching that they are no longer under the slave-master metaphor? Is he making them His peers, no longer under His authority and obligated to submit to His will?

Not at all.

They are His friends as well as His slaves. A slave isn't owed explanation or reasoning. But Jesus had revealed all to his disciples (v. 15). They were more than slaves because they were privy to His thoughts and purposes (1 Corinthians 2:16).

A relationship with the Lord Jesus is more than an obligation to serve a Master--but never less.

I am quick to claim the titles "son" and "friend" as my own. I much more slowly adopt the title and position of slave. Yet, the master/slave relationship is the dominant metaphor used throughout the New Testament to describe our relationship to God.

I can find no examples in scripture of an individual saying, "I am a son of God" or "I am God's friend". However, the writers of the New Testament consistently introduce themselves as "slaves". Paul even describes another believer as a slave (Colossians 1:7, 4:12). Those who shepherd His people are His slaves (2 Timothy 2:24). It is a slave who received the Revelation of Jesus Christ to show to other slaves (Revelation 1:1). And in the end, it will be slaves who worship the Lamb (Revelation 22:3)

When the familial relationship is described, it is in the plural--"children", and "sons". We are God's children (1 John 3:2-3)! And this is a glorious position, to be sure. But the one we have claimed as Lord is our Master--and we are obligated to serve Him.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Obedience is Not Optional

God says that He expects us to: __________________

Too often, our response is a series of excuses, rationalizing, and statements about our position or liberty in Christ.

This would be fine...if we and God were peers.

It is, however, entirely inappropriate if God is our Lord, and we His slaves.

How does scripture depict our relationship?

"If you love Me"--then what? You'll give him a chance to convince you His way is in your best interest? Or is it, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15)?

"For this is the love of God, that we"--what? Wait until we feel led? Wait until we're exhorted correctly? Wait until "the Spirit" gives us some extra-biblical confirmation? Or is it, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments..." (1 John 5:3)

Is the one called as a freeman to Christ his colleague? His equal? His debate opponent? Or, is he Christ's slave (1 Corinthians 7:22)?

Is not every member of my body to be presented as a "slave to righteousness", resulting in sanctification (Romans 6:19)?

If one argues, "we are not merely slaves, but also sons", the questions become more difficult and yet (I think), more obvious.

Is a son a peer to his father? Does a son not owe respect, honor, and obedience to his earthly father (Colossians 3:20, Malachi 1:6, Ephesians 6:1)? If so, is it not much more the case with our heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:9)?

When our response to divine commands is an excuse--we're acting like the serpent, not a slave. 

A slave, much less a son, doesn't get to choose whether he should obey. It's not optional nor voluntary. James makes that perfectly clear (James 4:17).

Who Shall Dwell?

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

[He] in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

- Psalm 15:1,4 ESV