“Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised previously through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures, the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:1-4)
In this country, our past of slavery is a horrific and painful truth for many of those descendants and race. Yet, St. Paul uses the term “slave” to refer to himself. He places himself in the same context as a slave when he speaks of his role in serving Christ. Paul’s letter to the Romans is only one of several times he introduces himself as a “slave” of Christ.
Paul is not using the term as a degrading image or in a negative connotation. He utilizes the term to express his undivided, undying, and total allegiance to his Master. The concept Paul is conveying by identifying himself as a “slave” of Jesus is to show that Paul is giving his life, his desires, his goals, and his actions totally to the authority of Jesus.
We are all called to be “slaves” of Christ. We are not expected to be in the same terms as slaves as in our country’s history, yet Christians are to obey and surrender to Christ. Our desires are not negotiable when it comes to what we do with our life if we are to follow Jesus. We may not like the command to avoid certain sins, especially those which are enticing and enjoyable, yet the pleasure and joy we experience through sin is momentary. It ends. Joy in serving Christ and avoiding sin lasts for an eternity.
We do not talk about the severity of sin enough. In fact, many of us do not talk about sin at all. It becomes a joke or something we gloss over as “yeah, I’ll have to repent for that later” or “I know it’s a sin, but it’s fine and not that big of a deal.”
The minimizing of sin eliminates our position as slaves of Christ. If we are to truly be slaves and bondservants of Jesus Christ, then we are to surrender totally to the life He calls us to live. This includes a willingness, and a desire, to repent from known sins. We cannot call Jesus “Lord” if we do not allow Him to be Master. We cannot claim God as our Father and followers of Christ while having one foot in the world and a life of sin.
If we are to proclaim Jesus as our “Lord” then he must be given that position entirely. Lordship is not a partial or limited position. In a society where we have minimized and diminished titles, we tend to just view “Lord” as a title for Christ. It is not just a title. For the Christian, it is His position over us. He is our Lord and Master. We are His voluntary slaves. He loves us. We serve Him. That’s the Christian life.