(Top Left: Welcoming Refugees workshop; Top Right: “Family Promise” planning meeting; Bottom: Youth Sunday)
S (Scripture): Romans 6:13b …present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness?
O (Observation): Paul was clearly defining the motivation in the life of a Jesus-follower. No one should think about following Jesus as a way of “getting by with the least effort,” since grace covers sin. Rather, the life of a Jesus follower is to be lived in such a way that you recognize that grace from God has made you who you are. And as such, your allegiance (that is, your “slave / servant status) is to obedience to God, and not self-centered (sinful) actions.
The term “slave” is troublesome, because of the history of slavery in America. So to clarify a bit, many biblical experts have pointed to the type of slavery that Paul talks about. Paul is NOT talking about slavery as a forced servitude. Rather, the type of slavery Paul puts forth is more like a proud tie to Israelite heritage (that is, a servant attitude towards God and God’s chosen people). The footnotes in NET Bible explain this much better than I:
Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s “slave” or “servant” is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For someone who was Jewish this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”
A (Application): In the last 4 days, I experienced a whole bunch of God’s grace. I attended a workshop on how we here in Murfreesboro, TN, can welcome refugees and serve the least of these. We learned about what is being done already for these few refugees that have made their way to our city, as well as what we can do going forward.
Last Friday, I attended a workshop about an organization called Family Promise. They help homeless families to get back on their feet and get back into their own living situations as soon as possible, and in a constructive manner that will allow them to care for themselves going forward.
On Sunday, our youth led both of our worship services, as well as acted out the Gospel text. They also interspersed their own kairos moments and shared how they applied the texts to their own lives.
After worship, we had a meeting about re-aligning our ministry structure to better serve our vision and goals.
After that, we had a great congregation council meeting, in which I think we spent more time looking at ministries OUTSIDE OF our congregation, rather than in. That speaks highly of our opportunity to bear fruit in this community.
How is all of this possible? Because we are slaves to righteousness, rather than slaves to sin. And this is none of our own doing, but rather what Jesus Christ does in us. In our baptism, we are joining in Christ’s death, which is a death to sin. That means sin is no longer the all-enslaving power. Instead, our servitude is towards God. And we are proud of that service.
What is your servant status bending you towards? What types of outside ministries are you happy to be a part of?
P (Prayer): Lord, keep us mindful that we are free from the power of sin…free to serve you! Amen!