Romans 6:15-23 - Free to serve
I love my job! After a restful Easter break, I'm back to it and loving pretty much every minute. My job is essentially to hang out with young people as much as possible, being as helpful as possible. And I love it. Yesterday was one of those days where almost every five minutes there was an encouragement about the importance and effectiveness of what I was doing. And it's not because I'm unique in the way I serve or that I'm better than everyone else but it's because God is a unique master and he is better than everyone else! It's a real privilege and joy to serve Jesus and Paul says that this is what true freedom is.
The people are wondering if it's ok to do whatever they want because they're forgiven by Jesus and don't need to worry about God's anger or punishment of sin. But Paul says it would be a self-destructive and self-enslaving idea. Why would anyone continue doing the things that were killing them and those around them before they were rescued by Jesus? Forgiven destructive behaviour is still destructive behaviour and it's bad for us and those around us. What's more, Christians have a new master - Jesus and they have an alternative to the self-destructive sin that everyone else is stuck in. Christians have God the Holy Spirit living in them and the opportunity to choose to serve Jesus instead of sin at every moment of every day. The possibility of living a free life is more there than it ever was but it's not a freedom that is enjoyed by serving ourselves. That's still slavery. It's a freedom that is best enjoyed by serving Jesus - the best, most loving, most powerful master there is. Serving ourselves and sin leads to mess, destruction and death but serving Jesus leads to healing, wholeness and life. Why would we go back and serve our old master that was killing us? It would make no sense at all.
The trap we might fall into here is thinking that serving Jesus is what saves a person and makes then right with God but that's not what Paul is saying. Paul has already made it very clear that our only hope of being made right with God is to trust and follow Jesus who died in our place for our sin. The point he's making is about what you do next and his strong and clear advice is to wholeheartedly give yourself to serving and sharing Jesus.
The other trap we might fall into is thinking that being 'slaves to God' is a bad thing because slavery is bad. Slavery has been made bad because of people's sin but Paul is using an example from the everyday life of his first readers. He's asking them to imagine what it would be like if they were slaves to the most powerful, most loving master - Jesus. That kind of 'slavery' isn't like any other slavery people experience in this world. Living for Jesus is true freedom because we're free to serve the one who loves us most.
1. Are you trusting and following Jesus yet? If not, what are you serving and what's it leading to?
2. If you are trusting and following Jesus, how are you serving and sharing him? How's it going?