Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Son or Slave

One of the things I recently realized about why I had become so legalistic and judgmental was because I saw myself as a slave, not a son. For most of my life I would be proud to call myself a slave to God. After all, we were "bought by His blood", He "paid our ransom" and so we are indebted to Him with our very lives. All this is very true, but thinking of ourselves as only slaves leads to legalism and works based blessings.
This was what Jesus taught against in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31. We usually stop after the younger son comes home and is welcomed by the father. They walk off into the sunset, hugging laughing and heading to a grand party. Well, there is an older brother in the story. The younger brother was showing us the Gentiles, the sinners, the nonreligious. God has a desire to welcome them (us) home as sons into His kingdom. The older brother was directed at the Pharisees who were there that day, and the Pharisees who are here today.
It's for the person who thinks the sermon is for someone else in the church that day. The person who teaches a Sunday School class or keeps the nursery because it's their duty as a church member.
The older son was ticked off because his dad was throwing a party for that wasteful younger brother who came home. Why was he mad? Because he was a good slave!!! He didn't squander his dads money, he didn't run off.....in fact he said "Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders....."(Luke 15:29). He saw himself as a slave, and his dad as a master.
When we see our relationship with God like that, we get mad too. A deathbed conversion of a nasty sinner is despised, why? It's because we think "why should he get into heaven at the last second while I have been a good slave all my Christian life". We fail to see our relationship with God as a Father/son, but instead think we are Master/slave. A slave does his masters bidding because of fear, indebtedness, or to get on his masters good side....to receive his blessings or promotions. A son follows his fathers bidding because of his love and his relationship with his dad. It's no longer about labor, it's about being "about my Fathers business." His passions are my passions, His concerns are my concerns, His tasks become my priority.
I have never heard of a master going out into the field to labor with a slave. Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20; the urgent task at hand for all believers. But He also says "I am with you always, to the end of the age." Not watching you, "with you", beside you. Why would Jesus say that....because He sees us as sons, not slaves.

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