“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
In the 1990’s a surge of leadership books began to flood the Christian market. The best thing that came out of this was the term “servant leadership.”
Still, the emPHAsis too often was put on the wrong syl-LA-byl. In a culture that admires personal freedom and raises celebrities and political leaders to cult status, bond-servant has always been a tough sale.
Paul’s warning to the Galatian church serves as a flashing light on the dashboard of the contemporary church. Apparently the urge to lead others, by pleasing followers has been around a very long time.
Note to self: STOP IT! Anytime you lose the sound of sandaled footsteps walking next to you, and allow the voice of those behind you to drown out the still small voice of the Spirit of Christ, you are heading down a dead end street, or taking followers over a cliff. STOP. LOOK. LISTEN to Jesus.
Bond-servant is derived from the Greek word to tie, or to bind. In some cases it is used to describe a captured person, enslaved and held in a servile condition, subject an owners authority. The tie between the authority figure creates a servile condition, held by an unbreakable bond.
In the Christian experience, this bond is not inflicted upon a person, but it inspires a devotion within the heart of the one who has been captured. The Blue Letter Bible Commentary offers this insight. Bond-Servant: devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
There is a phrase in an old hymn that once graced the life of the church, “Blessed be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love.” It was a gentle reminder to the fellowship of the local church that they were not held together by man-made cement created by like-minded people. They were not bonded together against their will, but shared a love between one another that flowed from the heart of their Father. They may become friends, along the way, but they start the journey of faith, as family.
Ron Dunn, master story-teller, Bible teacher and preacher went to Heaven in July of 2001. He is still sorely missed. One of his greatest contributions to the Body of Christ was his message, “Chained to the Chariot.” He instilled in his listeners the unbreakable bond, and the inevitable blessing that comes to those who recognize that coming to Jesus means being bonded to Jesus.
On a personal note, Ron forever forged in my mind the understanding of the huge difference between being IN authority, and being UNDER authority. Thanks, Ron. I miss you, my friend.
The bond-servant is captured by the love of the Master, but is fully devoted to Christ. The servant is securely bonded to the Master, but willingly yields to His jurisdiction and authority.
Paul called upon the early church to wear their servile condition as a bond-servant, as a badge of honor, not eternal punishment. Paul was captured by Christ’s love, and chained to His chariot. He refused to be disturbed by men, or to distort the gospel message. He was willingly and fully devoted to Jesus, and preached the good news of the gospel of Christ to those captured by sin.
There are times, in the life of any bond-servant, that the hand of God feels like the thumb of God. Paul’s imprisonment produced The Prison Epistles. His letter to the Galatians was penned during his imprisonment, and serves as a reminder that what looks like bad situation can be used by God to create something redemptive.
It matters very little that Paul was under house arrest, and not confined under a Roman jail. His freedom was limited to the length of his chain, and he was handcuffed to the arm of a Roman guard. He was not free to go where he wanted to go or leave when he felt he had waited long enough.
Decisions have consequences. Paul had sought the authority and jurisdiction of Caesar to settle his case. He went to Rome, and ended up in God’s Waiting Room. Rather than resent the delay, Paul embraced it. He was chained to the chariot, and made his peace with it. Like the old camp song said, “Where-ever He leads I’ll go.”
The truth is a bond-servant is going to go where-ever God leads, willingly or not. The will of God is not limited by the will of man. He disciplines those He loves. Sons or servants, it makes no difference. The Father’s guiding hand sometimes feels like a thumb of discipline, in the midst of a crisis.
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” Hebrews 12:6
Paul prayed his way to a willing spirit to follow God’s will, and so did Jesus. There is a pattern here. Don’t miss it. If you are in God’s Waiting Room, or feel like you are under His thumb, stop squirming for wiggle room. Don’t waste your time looking at old magazines or talking to the person next to you about the bad hand you have been dealt. Double down on prayer and enjoy the wait. The best is yet to come. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!