We're going to turn to a subject in the New Testament that as I think about it is largely ignored and overlooked. And I've been made aware of that in recent months. It was not too many months ago that I was flying on one of those jumbo jets from Los Angeles to London, in the process reading a book that dealt with the issue of slavery in the New Testament time and in the New Testament text. It set me thinking in all kinds of directions. I actually finished the book on the flight I was so rapt in my attention to this particular theme.
Being a slave of Christ may be the best way to define a Christian. We are, as believers, slaves of Christ. You would never suspect that, however, from the language of Christianity. In contemporary Christianity the language is anything but slave language. It is about freedom. It is about liberation. It is about health, wealth, prosperity, finding your own fulfillment, fulfilling your own dream, finding your own purpose. We often hear that God loves you unconditionally and wants you to be all you want to be. He wants to fulfill every ambition, every desire, every hope, every dream. In fact, there are books being written about dreams as if they are gifts from God which God then having given them is bound to fulfill. Personal fulfillment, personal liberation, personal satisfaction, all bound up in an old term in evangelical Christianity, a personal relationship. How many times have we heard that the gospel offers people a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
What exactly does that mean? Satan has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and it's not a very good one. Every living being has a personal relationship with the living God of one kind or another, leading to one end or another.
But what exactly is our relationship to God? What is our relationship to Christ? How are we best to understand it?...