Summary: As Christians, we draw our true identity from being in Christ.
Your Identity In Christ
Text: Eph. 6:5-9
1. Illustration: You probably know Ted Giannoulas even if you’ve never heard his name. He has been the San Diego Chicken for 30 years. He originated the character as a college student, but Ted is getting older. At age 50, being the Chicken has been his life and his whole identity. His face is never photographed unless he is in costume. No one knows the real Ted. He has no family. At first, he loved his alter ego. "I discovered an untapped personality in that suit," he said. "It was like, now I have freedom. Now I’m no longer Ted." But there is a price to pay. Dave Raymond, who for years wore the costume of the Philly Phanatic, said, "[Giannoulas] was the first and the funniest, and I have nothing but respect for him. But if you’re not careful, you can lose yourself in that suit." Ted himself says, "I have plenty of Chicken stories. I’m afraid I don’t have any Ted stories." Many people live life being someone God didn’t create them to be. They lose themselves in other things instead of finding their identity in Christ.
2. Our text today is yet another example of not only how deep the Bible is, but also how relevant for every age and situation.
3. This text can speak to:
a. The ancient system of slavery.
b. Our present employee/employer relationship.
c. Knowing our spiritual identity.
4. Read Eph. 6:5-9
Proposition: As Christians, we draw our true identity from being in Christ.
Transition: First, we must realize...
I. Who We Work For (5-7)
A. Working For the Lord Rather Than People
1. At first glance, this text seems to talk about a topic that is foreign to our day and time.
2. Paul begins, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear."
a. There are two words in this first verse that we need to get a handle on, and the first one is the word "slave."
b. This noun refers to a person who is the property of another person. A slave can be bought, sold, inherited, leased, or jointly owned (NLT Study Bible, 2222).
c. Our only frame of reference as 21st century American’s is the institution of slavery as it existed in our nations past. An institution that was eliminated with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
d. A part of that barbaric institution was to keep slaves uneducated and ignorant as an inferior race.
e. However, in ancient Roman society, slavery was very different.
f. In contrast to our understanding of slavery, slaves in the Greco-Roman world of Paul "did not merely do menial work; they did nearly all the work, including oversight and management and most professions."
g. Many were educated better than their owners. They could own property, even other slaves, and were allowed to save money to buy their freedom (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 327).
h. In Paul’s day, people even entered slavery voluntarily to gain economic advantage.
3. The other word that we need a better understanding of in this verse is the word "masters."
a. This noun means master, lord, or owner in social and economic contexts; generally, it refers to a social superior.
b. This is the same Greek word that is used to refer to Jesus as "Lord," which is why the word "earthly" is inserted here.
c. Taking this into consideration, what would be a comparable term in our modern world? Does this not sound like what we would refer to as a boss?
d. So from our frame of reference, this is more like a employee/employer relationship than a slave/master relationship.
4. So how does Paul tell us we should treat our boss? First, he tells us to "Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ."
a. What Paul tells us is that we should be genuine toward them, as if we were working for Jesus himself.
b. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
c. So you should treat your boss the same way you would treat Jesus.
5. Look what else Paul tells us to do. He says, "Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart."
a. We should try to please them all the time, and not just when they are standing there watching us.
b. It shouldn’t matter if they are there or not, we should work just as hard and do just as good a job when they are not there as we do when they are there.
c. We have slang terms for when people work hard when the boss is around then they do when he’s not, and they are all derogatory terms.