Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Bondservant of Christ

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” – Romans 1:1

The word “bondservant” is used throughout the New Testament as a title for several followers of Christ. The apostles would sign their letters to the churches at the beginning of the first chapter because this was the first words to be seen on a scroll.  They presented their name and title to the reader by saying they were a “bondservant of Jesus Christ” or a “bondservant of God”.  It was the title of Paul (Romans 1:1), Epaphras (Colossians 4:12), James (James 1:1), Simon Peter (2 Peter 1:1), Jude (Jude 1:1), and even used to describe the service of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:7).  
The word “bondservant” carries the connotation of slavery.  Slavery begins with being captured, placed in “bonds”, and taken into service against your will.  It removes freedom, inflicts harm, and pain.  But that’s not what being a bondservant means. 

The Greek word for bondservant is doulos (Strong’s G1401), which carries four parts in its meaning.  It means:
  • "a servant and attendant”
  • one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men”
  • “a slave”
  • “devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests”. 

The difference in being a bondservant and being a slave is that a bondservant chooses to take on the role rather than being captured and forced.  He chooses to give his life for the cause of Christ, to give up what he wants to follow what Christ wants.  He is self-less to the point of donating his own life for the cause of Christ, without expecting anything in return.
Reread that last part.  He expects nothing in return.  The difference in a bondservant and an employee is that an employee earns wages for what he does in service to his master.  A bondservant earns nothing, and yet does the job with full devotion anyway. 

What if Christianity had no perks, no blessings, no comfort, no intimacy with God through the Holy Spirit, no position in the church, no rewards…whatsoever?  Would we still choose to be a “bondservant of Jesus Christ”?  The question puts a spotlight on our hearts, where our true allegiance is rooted.  A bondservant serves out of love and devotion to their master.  An employee serves for his own gain. 
If to be a Christian means to be Christ-like (and it does), then we have to serve God out of love for Him.

To serve because we want a jewel encrusted crown when we get to Heaven is to serve as an employee. 
To serve to hear God say, “well done, my good and faithful servant” is to serve as an employee. 

To serve for the comfort of a church position or popularity is to serve as an employee.   

We have to serve without considering or getting hung up on the blessings of Christianity.  1 John 3:16 says “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  Jesus was willing to lay down His life, to become a bondservant of God, to be self-less for our good.  As we serve each other, the love of Christ should be our only fuel.

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