Monday, October 26, 2009

In The Face Of The Social and Prosperity Gospels

Good morning my friends. I hope you had a great weekend but especially a great Sunday. I do not know how you will feel about me after this blog so let me say in advance, it has been great getting to know you. Ephesians 6.

Sometimes thinking out loud can get you into trouble. For example, as I read our portion of Ephesians 6 this morning something struck me that I want to share with you out loud:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. vs. 6-8

I have heard a lot of people, including myself, apply this to employees and employers but let's get real here. Paul is addressing the slaves who have come to know Jesus. So where is the social outrage and the social justice concerning the slave trade here? Why is Paul not telling the slave owners to let them go? How can one Christian own another Christian? These should be some major issues we are wrestling with here as it affects the social gospel so many preach. As far as I can see there are a couple of possibilities.

The first possibility is that it simply was not the time to abolish slavery. God has a time for everything and he would use a couple of men like Abraham Lincoln and William Wilberforce to bring about his will. At the time of Paul's writing slavery was so entangled and woven in the fabric of society that everything would have fallen apart if the slave owners started to let them go. It was a socially acceptable and necessary evil for that time and God did not want to upset the balance. Paul seemed to have no problem with this as he sent Onesimus back to his owner. The problem is I have a hard time believing this. It just doesn't ring true to me, so I may have to consider something else.

The other possibility may be a little harder to accept. Perhaps God was serious when he indicated that we should grow where he has planted us. Perhaps God is not as concerned about our station in life as he is about our obedience to him despite our circumstances. In our North American thinking this is hard to take as we believe that we should always be working toward the next level. As well this, in face of the prosperity gospel this is of the enemy. In fact this idea seems to challenge both the social and prosperity gospel. Yet, it seems to be the thing that is the most consistent with Scripture:

Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you–although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24)

The truth of the matter is that our situation here does not matter as much as where we are in Jesus. We can be a free person in this world and yet a slave to all that is death. It is in Jesus that we find our freedom. It is in Jesus that we find release. It is in Jesus that we find our contentment in the place where we have been placed by the Father:

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11)

We need to gain this perspective so that we can stop fighting against God and simply serve where he has placed us. In this we will discover peace:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

The problem is that we are spending so much time trying to advance in life, we are losing the opportunities to serve where we are. It is always about increase and advancement for us. Yet, if we would learn to serve where we are we may discover God is opening doors of opportunities we had missed because we were to busy to notice. It all comes down to our perspective and what we consider to be of value. Are our values based upon our physical and mental needs or are they based on our relationship with Jesus Christ? 

The one spiritual blessing most of us seem to be missing in this rat race is contentment. After all, it can only be possessed when we trust Jesus with all of our future. "Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus then to trust and obey."

1 comment:

Mom Of Many said...

I thought I would stop by to "meet" you after I saw that you twittered about my chaplain call yesterday and I wanted to thank you for praying. I read your post on contentment and it reminded me of about 2 Sundays ago my husband preached on Contentment. Here is the link to our church site and you can find it under Media on the sidebar...then just hit the button that says subscribe to I understand you can listen live without an ipod...although I am slightly technically challenged (okay, slightly might be an underexaggeration - LOL)....but anyway, just in case you wanted to...

I pray your day is blessed.