Gonna Serve Somebody
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism." - Colossians 3:22-25 NIV In 1979, the year I was born, Bob Dylan released a record by the name of "Slow Train Coming". The very first track on the record is titled "Gotta Serve Somebody" and the chorus says this, "But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You're gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you're gonna have to serve somebody" With respect to our passage today it's no question that slavery is reprehensible. In all its forms it serves as yet another proof of the fallen nature of mankind. The great question of why God doesn't eradicate it is posed in the field of Theodicy; the study of God's goodness and providence in light of the existence of evil. Even further still, are the critics who excoriate the Bible for its lack of condemning such abominations, asserting that silence must indicate acceptance. To this criticism I simply say, I understand. But there's always more to a story than meets the eye. 1. God's word manages the many issues produced by the fall. I like to call it Sin management. In the Old Testament, these issues are managed through the Mosaic law. Which, mind you, always awaited true redemption through the Messiah. And this in light of the hardness of men's hearts. In the New Testament, issues are managed by the ethics of Christ. This has led to many societies putting slavery to death altogether. And for this we praise God!
Both testaments, however, always point to a future time in which God will put all things right again. A time in which justice will be served. (Colossians 3:25) A time in which these issues will be put to death once and for all! 2. God is using the issues of this life to refine us for a future Glory. Sin could've been immediately crushed by God, along with all who participated in it. And God, like an uncaring parent, could've refused to see people over their disobedience. But instead, God shows us ways in this life that we can serve Him in the midst of chaos. Thus training us to look more like Him no matter our circumstance. After all, how could we ever respond to opposition with grace if we never face opposition? 3. Life with God is all about faith. Risking oversimplification, faith equals trust. The gospel reveals that we are all in fact slaves under sin. Our only hope is trust. Not a trust in ourselves but rather in Jesus Christ. Both in what He has done for us on the cross and what He calls us to for our own good, obedience. Everything we do in accordance with Jesus' commands, in the midst of chaos, reveals and trains us in true faith. Paul's instruction to slaves here is centered in their ultimate faith in God. As Bob Dylan song says "it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody." Slave or free we have one choice every day, serve God and His ways or the devil through our human ways. If we serve God we can 1. see the wisdom in the words of Paul 2. not lose heart in light of such chaos and 3. trust that no matter how bad it gets God will set it all right someday! Questions to Consider: Do you wrestle with why God allows evil?
If so what are some of your biggest issues?