SCRIPTURE: Matthew 20:27 (TM)
Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.
The story is told that Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, was captured by pirates and later put up for sale on the slave block. Looking around, Diogenes saw a vacant looking young man, very richly dressed, who stood by. “Sell me to that man,” he said, “He looks as if he needed a master.”
Can we be honest for a minute? No one likes to talk about being a slave. No one desires to be classified as a slave. No one will even consider themselves a slave. It is foreign to our modern way thinking. And yet, there it is in the Gospel according to Matthew. We must be a “slave.” Not servant, but slave. Ouch.
I would much prefer to talk about being a servant. Don’t you? I really don’t mean being a servant. The role fits my thinking patterns well. It is something that we can conceptualize. We have many good role models to follow. We like the “doing for others” idea. It gives us a warm feeling. In many ways it helps us with some mental tapes that where we hear our parents praising us for “doing for others.” But slave?!? Really! Did God really think this one through?
Slaves have no say in their activities. Slaves have no control over their decisions. Slaves have life apart from their master. Slaves are on call 24/7. Slaves do not have days off, vacations with pay … actually slaves have no pay. Slaves are completely and totally “owned” by their masters. There is no retirement when you are slave.
Well, if we really think about our relationship with Christ, God did get it right. We are slave to the Kingdom of God. We are slave to the work of Christ. We are slave – even as an heir with Christ – to people everywhere. Whomever Christ saved and served by dying on the cross to those individuals serve as their slave.
Boy that is a hard saying of Jesus. Our life would be a lot easier if he hadn’t shared that … but he did!
Slave? Really God, you couldn’t have thought of a better idea than that? Slave? This is one of those “ouch-factors” in following you isn’t it? We cannot negotiate this concept into something easier and less painful to fulfill now can we? We cannot do this on our own. OH, that’s the lesson isn’t it? You never ask us to do something that we can do!