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I appeal to you, my friends, as strangers and refugees in this world! Do not give in to bodily passions, which are always at war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 (GNT)

My daughter came home from school the other day full of all sorts of information and questions about the Civil War in the USA. She wanted to know about slavery. She wondered what it must have been like to be a slave.

I realized at that point  how lucky I was that we have never had to deal personally with slavery. How comfortable we were in our nice middle-class rural existence. How far removed we were from the reality others face in their daily existence. An existence in which they are completely dependent on people who have not interest in their own physical, spiritual or emotional health. An existence built on getting the most out of you and giving back as little as absolutely possible; the bare minimum in order to keep you productive and alive.

Such was, from my very limited perspective, the life of a slave. Such was the life of a refugee. Yanked from everything they knew, from family, friends and homeland, they were (are?) sent to a foreign land where their culture is not recognized and their needs are disregarded.

The physical harshness must have been tremendous. The emotional trauma must have been staggering. But the biggest, most shameful thing that happened was the destruction of the soul. The soul is the very essence of our existence. It tells us of our value. It tells us who we are. When the soul is wounded it makes life difficult and we question who we are. When the soul is destroyed  we lose all sight of who we are and give up completely with the dreams, goals and potential of what we can become.

No wonder Peter calls us refugees. No wonder he warns us of the tactics of the enemy. Tactics that give no regard for who we are. Tactics that aim to destroy our freedom. He’s ruthless, cunning and full of hate and anger. His weapons are deadly, his goal is your destruction. But his banner tells us his way is best, most pleasurable, the ‘right thing’ to do to be free.

God’s way contradicts his way in every way. His rules are for our benefit, not our destruction. His plan is for our emotional stability and freedom. Living according to the principles of the Creator God gives us victory over The enemies attacks. Following him allows us to corral the passions that can so easily pull us down. When we are living in victory over the evil desires, the outward stressors will not change but our ability to endure and be at peace will be evident.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you that you are so aware of the battle for my soul. I praise you for the victory you gave me over the enemy through your work on the cross. Empower me to endure the pressure of enemy attack so I can enjoy the freedom of my soul. Amen.

Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. Galatians 4:7 (NLT)

A slave has no decisions to make about daily schedules, what food to eat or where they will live. A child is given new choices every day.

A slave has no future other than that decided by the master. A child is groomed every day to believe that they can be anything they want to be.

A slave lives every day with the fear that they may be ripped up from where they are and taken from their family. A child is secure in the knowledge that they are loved and that they can always come home. 

A slave lives knowing that all relationships are temporary, that those closest to him may be gone tomorrow. A child lives with the assurance that those who love him will always be at their side.

A slave lives with the presupposition that love is based on performance, that he is loved for what he does. A child lives with the foundational truth that he is loved for who he is, not for what he does.

A slave lives for today because tomorrow there is no hope for tomorrow. A child endures the struggles of growing up because he knows that his future is full of hope because someday he will receive the inheritance.

A slave knows that if he leaves, death is certain. A child knows that if he wanders he can always come home. Always.

A slave, even if he were to become ‘legally free’ still holds the DNA of slavery. A child will always bear the genetic marks of son-ship.

A slave sees a master. A child sees a loving father.

Brothers and sisters, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a child of the living God. You no longer need to live as slaves. You are a child of the King. Regardless of where you are, or where you have been. You have hope based on the person of Jesus Christ, not of yourself.

PRAYER: Father God. Daddy. I’m in awe as I’m reminded once again of who I am. It’s so easy with life circumstances to be deceived into seeing myself as a failure rather than your child. Forgive me for my doubt. Empower me with your spirit to live as your child. Thank you again for Jesus. Amen.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

There seems to have been an ongoing battle among Jesus’ disciples to establish a pecking order. The comparison game ran rampant. Some would argue their case based on the order in which Christ ‘chose’ them. After all, wouldn’t he pick them the way we choose teams on the playground? The most talented would surely be chosen first, and disciple number 12? Well, you know that story!

I would imagine that the fisherman in the group argued their case for supremacy based on the consistency and size of their catch. Matthew and Judas based their level of importance based on their knowledge of finances and the Roman government, The others all staked their claim to greatness on other personality traits or passion to follow Christ.

We still play the comparison game in our churches and Christian circles. We’ve become more refined, of course. Past sins, divorce and other relational issues, length of time with the master and denominational affiliation will either disqualify you, or make you more qualified, depending on your point of view.

Fact of the matter is, Jesus sets the standard for greatness pretty low. Children, livestock, women and servants were all in the same category in Jesus day. They carried no value in and of themselves. Women were valuable of course if they produced male offspring. Livestock were valuable if there were no blemishes because they were the monetary standard of the day. Children had some value because they would eventually grow up to be heirs (boys) or a way to raise yourself to a higher social level (good looking women).

Servants? Truth be told there really wasn’t a value placed on a servant. The bad ones were sold or killed or given the dirtiest jobs. The good ones were elevated until, of course, they proved themselves inadequate. There was no glamour in being a servant. Wasn’t in Jesus day, still isn’t.

Servants had no choices in life. Their sole purpose in life was to make other people happy and comfortable. Good masters may show some gratitude (to the good servants) but it certainly wasn’t necessary, or the norm. Servants generally received no praise. They were just doing their job after all. There was no Servants Union. No one to advocate for servant rights. No United Servant Code of Ethics.

Still, Jesus calls each of us to be servants in order to show His greatness to the nations. One more thing about being a servant, and this is a hard one to swallow. Being a ‘servant’ to people who we like and who are kind to us? That’s not being a servant. Servant-hood is not based on like-ability. The crabby boss? The obnoxious customer? The angry spouse? Yep. We’re called to serve them.

As Christ-followers, our question is not ‘Should I serve that person’ but, ‘How does God want me to serve that person wisely.’

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. You showed us the ultimate example of how to be a servant by reaching out to the unlovely, allowing yourself to be the object of scorn and ridicule and ultimately dying for me when I didn’t deserve it. I know your command is the same today as it was when you walked with your disciples. It’s hard being a servant in an evil world but I know that is Your desire. Empower me with Your Spirit to be the loving and wise servant You want me to be. Keep me from playing the comparison game. I’m not better or no worse than anyone else when I walk with you. Thank you for being my servant. Help me to serve others in the same way. Amen.

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