Sermons

Summary: The manner in which we conduct our work reflects our comprehension of Christ our Master.

“Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.” [1]

With some degree of regularity, individuals—not surprisingly, usually of Negroid descent—demand reparations for slavery. These demands are echoed by several prominent race baiters who anticipate that they will be appointed to administer the reparations when they are finally extracted from taxpayers. This is an odd demand, if one should pause and think. It means that people who fled Hungary in 1956 to escape Soviet oppression are responsible to pay moneys to assuage the hurt feelings of Igbo tribesmen who fled Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War in 1967 to 1970. Of course, such reasoning makes no sense.

Then, the question arises, what percentage of “blackness” qualifies for reparations? Should Barak Hussein Obama pay reparations to himself? His mother was a white woman from Kansas and his father was a black man from Kenya. Or should he pay reparations to his wife, Michelle Obama? Is it even possible to find a black person who is racially pure without any genetic material contributed to her or his makeup either from Mongoloid or Caucasoid progenitors? Perhaps those advocating payment of reparations based on race are actually attempting to game the system. Assuredly, the demands—based as they are on race—anticipate a racial purity akin to Aryan purity that was demanded by the Nazis—a purity that was impossible to demonstrate and meaningless if it could be achieved.

What is indisputable is that slavery has been a plague on the world, beginning from ancient times and continuing to this day. The estimates of those enslaved in our modern world run as high as thirty million people. The number includes people in debt bondage, domestic servants kept in captivity, indentured servitude, serfdom, adoptions in which children are compelled to work as slaves, child soldiers, women in forced marriages and sex slaves in addition to actual slaves captured and held in bondage in a surprising number of Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

It is generally assumed that Caucasians enslaved Negroid races and Mongoloid races. However, all races have practised slavery. Historically, Asians enslaved Asians. Today, slavery among Muslim countries is relatively common, especially in the Middle East. Arab Muslims enslave black Africans with dismaying regularity. Black Africans enslaved fellow Africans, often selling them to Caucasian slavers seeking cheap labour for the new world. Without the enslavement of blacks by blacks, slavery among the European nations during the eighteenth and nineteenth Centuries would never have happened. Set against this is the fact that without white Christian intervention slavery would have continued in Europe and the Americas.

I have included this brief address of the subject of slavery by way of introduction to the text before us. Slavery was one of the most common conditions of those living in the Roman Empire. Some estimates suggest that six out of ten people living in the Roman Empire were slaves. Slavery presented a complex situation in the ancient context.

UNDER A YOKE AS BONDSERVANTS — I provided the introduction in order to state that direct application of the text to our current situation is not possible. Within the Christian world, slavery simply will not be tolerated today. However, this fact must be offset by the repeated call to Christians to offer themselves as slaves to the Master. Underscore in your mind that we are called to offer ourselves voluntarily as “slaves” to Christ and to serve one another voluntarily.

Perhaps a few references to the call to voluntary servitude will be helpful. “Whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” [MATTHEW 20:27, 28]. [2] The Master clearly calls those who would follow Him to choose a life of service. He speaks of those who choose this life as choosing to be a “slave,” a doûlos. A slave was “completely controlled” by another. [3]

Having spoken of His pending return to take His own out of this world, Jesus then stated, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” [MATTHEW 24:45-51].

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