“Which one of you having a slave tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? Instead, will he not tell him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink’? Does he thank that slave because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” - Luke 17:7-10, HCSB
If you read First Kings 9:15-25, you will see that Solomon used slave labor in building the First Temple. Verse 15 reads, "Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted...." Verse 21 states that the descendents from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, "that is, their descendents remaining in the land, who the Israelites could not exterminates - these Solomon conscripted for his slave labor force...." Slave labor was common in both the Old and New Testament. In fact, slavery has existed through all recorded history, and more than 20 million people remain in slavery in the world to this day. We like to think that civilized nations do not enslave others; and due to American history, we prefer to ignore slavery and not to speak of it. We think of slavery as repulsive and champion a belief that all men should be free. Therefore, we find it difficult to deal with Luke 17:7-10. No wonder it would take a Nigerian to help the Western World understand the importance of Jesus’ parable.
In the August 13, 2014 issue of Christianity Today, there is a fascinating article by Alec Hill that is worth looking up and reading; it is titled “The Most Troubling Parable: Why Does Jesus Say We are Like Slaves?" This article deals with Luke 17:7-10, a parable often ignored in today's pulpits. In it, Alec Hill writes, "Because our Master is all powerful, we can lean on his strength. And because he is all Good, we can trust him to care for us. What we see as our bondage is really our freedom." Alec points out that as believers we must learn to yield control, carry out our duty, and serve only Jesus. It is only in our slavery to Jesus that we are free. This parable squares with and is consistent with other New Testament Scriptures.
Scripture teaches us to voluntarily become slaves to Christ. We are to humble ourselves to be his slaves, and in so doing find that Jesus makes us sons and daughters. However, until we humble ourselves to the point of becoming his slave, we are not treated as sons and daughters. Every person working in a church (for pay) must determine if he or she is going to be a "slave" for Christ or a "servant" for the church. These two are very different and it is very important to know where you stand with the church and with Christ.
The best I can tell, my family tree is far removed from slavery in this country and in Europe. I have been unable to determine any ancestors that were slaves, or slave owners, and yet I am most certain that somewhere in my ancient past that slavery (as either slave or owner) would have been a part of my Gentile ancestral tree. I say this, not because of my race or the color of my skin, but because I am a sojourner in this world awaiting my heavenly home going. Yet of this I am sure, I am a slave to Christ! He is my Master and he can do with me whatever he desires. I serve no other master and I am building no earthly kingdom. I have ceded control to Jesus. I work daily to do my duty for Jesus. I only serve Jesus, and give him first place in my life above all others – even family. I am his slave. Jesus owes me no thanks for the work I do, it is owed to Jesus and much more. I am his slave and I am to serve him faithfully. The fact that Jesus treats me as his brother and son has everything to do with his mercy and grace, and nothing to do with my status as slave.
I love you Master and thank you today for the privilege of being your slave. Amen.