S (Scripture): 1 Corinthians 7:21 Were you called as a slave? Do not worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity. 22 For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. In the same way, the one who was called as a free person is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men. 24 In whatever situation someone was called, brothers and sisters, let him remain in it with God.
O (Observation): Paul sometimes jumps around when writing these letters to the churches. He was just talking about appropriateness of marrying or staying single (or widowed). Now he addresses this section on the circumstances in which one is called. Then, after this section, back to marriage.
One thing we might surmise is that because this section is sandwiched in between two discussions on marriage, perhaps Paul was highlighting this point: The circumstances in which you find yourself being called to the Lord do not define your call…rather, the call itself transforms your view of your circumstances.
Paul recognizes that slavery in his time was not ideal, but that one could be a slave and yet be “free” in the Lord. Their earthly bodies may be restrained, but they can be set free in their hears and minds…unafraid and unashamed of their worldly status. In the same way, though, neither is a free person to see themselves as any higher than their enslaved neighbor. Paul reminds Christ’s followers that they are all equal in the Kingdom.
Both of these points (enslaved are free in Christ; free are slaves to Christ) lead to Paul’s main point: Do not be slaves to human powers! Metaphorically or literally, one’s spirit is NOT to succumb to the world’s standards or leaders.
A (Application): How are you using your position for God’s sake? (I mean that in a nice way…not in a yelling tone : )
Where you are…stay-at-home parent, executive, police officer, grandparent, child, teacher, cook…how do you see God working through you in your current position?
Part of Paul’s point is that in whatever position you find yourself, don’t feel like your circumstances have to change in order for God to work through you. Right where you are…God calls you. That doesn’t mean that your earthly position won’t change…just that God calls you right where you are and can and will work through you TODAY!
Martin Luther thought vocation was extremely important. Vocation is our calling in the world, our calling lived out in service of the neighbor. We do what we do not for our own sake, but to serve God by serving others. Whether that is parenting, making shoes, sweeping, teaching, being a pastor, or whatever it is one does…one does it rightly for the glory of God and in service to the neighbor.
Where are you? How is God calling you and working through you?
P (Prayer): Lord, make me a vessel for your grace…lived out here on earth. Amen.