“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and He has no favorites.” Ephesians 6:5, 8-9 New Living Translation
I would like you to consider something that isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination, but is often forgotten. When Christianity is considered by the rest of humanity, what is the picture that leaps into their minds? You might think it an impossible question to answer, however there is plenty of information being collected which informs us that Christianity is not winning any popularity contests! Granted, Jesus did not give His followers the responsibility of being popular! Rather than win any most popular contests, Jesus told His followers it would be exactly the opposite; they could expect the world would hate them just as it had hated Him.
So, knowing Christianity isn’t making any friends in the world should not surprise us. However, there is a difference between making enemies of the world and being hated by the world. One of these occurs by actions which do not represent Jesus. The other happens because our desire is to reveal Jesus in everything we do. This brings me to the verses for this posting. They certainly are not words one would expect to hear in todays culture. They are not words you could reasonably expect to hear from me, because an attitude adjustment is occurring, changing how I view life, love, and happiness.
I don’t like having anyone tell me what to do! This attitude is not conducive to harmonious living since life has many opportunities where we experience others needing to tell us many things, including what to do! Having this attitude has made my working experiences challenging, to say the least. I’m not quite sure where or how I contracted the Don Quixote Syndrome. I just know I have spent way too much time jousting with dragons that turned out to be windmills!
I can recall having this attitude when I was in elementary school. There was something in me that refused to knuckle under to anyone for any reason. Maybe some of this is related to my birth order as firstborn; I haven’t researched that yet. Maybe it is related to my personality; I haven’t checked that out either. What I do know is that if I had landed in the military there would have been much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mine! So, I am eternally grateful I was not born into a country where slavery is still a way of life. I’m not sure I could have survived.
The message Paul gives here in his letter to the Ephesians flows through the centuries from the first to the twenty-first. It is a message calling all followers of Jesus to respect any and all those God brings into our lives no matter who they are. If they are our masters, (employers, supervisors, etc.) it is our duty to serve them as we would serve Jesus Himself. If we are the master, then we are to treat those who work for us as if they were Jesus. Can you catch a glimpse of how relationships in the workplace would be radically transformed if this was even tried, just tested?
Let’s take it one step further, how would practicing this attitude impact the relationships in our churches? Consider what might occur if, rather than telling everyone else how they needed to adjust their behavior to meet my needs and desires, I sought to adjust my attitude instead! What might happen if we began to choose understanding rather than demanding capitulation to our personal demands and desires? What might happen if I could acknowledge there are others who also have the truth since the truth is Jesus Christ?
There is an enemy who is seeking to destroy the followers of Jesus. It isn’t the followers of Jesus who are the enemy; it is the one who claims he can become God in place of God the Creator. It is the one who thought he won when Jesus went to the cross. This enemy thought he had finally destroyed all God stood for when Jesus was laid to rest in a tomb that was meant for someone else. But on a Sunday morning the enemy of God and all who are disciples of Jesus Christ discovered he was doomed by the very actions he believed would finally deliver this world and all who live in it into his ultimate control!
Since then he has been trying to confuse what it is that really matters to God, to us, to those who are lost and need to know the truth about their Creator. There are so many lies concerning God and what motivates Him, what drives Him in His desires towards those He created. And we carry upon ourselves the responsibility of revealing the love and grace that are the reality of God. Maybe it is better expressed that we need to be available to God as He reveals Himself through us in the way we relate to all we meet!
This leads us directly to one of the most important things in the lives of those who are disciples of Jesus Christ, the welfare of others! It is extremely significant that when Jesus gave us the definition of how His disciples would be separated from those who were only posers, it wasn’t a picture based on their righteousness, holiness, how well they obeyed, or how many souls they saved. It was how their Creator’s love naturally flowed out of their lives, revealed in compassion for those who were in various degrees of need, whether for those who are ill, in need of food, clothing, someone to listen to their pain, offer encouragement, or just be present. They might even be someone who is in prison. Read the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25. Sometimes it takes more than writing a check or a transfer of funds; sometimes the most important thing is giving ourselves.
It all brings us to this, whether you’re the boss, the employee, maybe you volunteer your time, or in some other way impact the world around you, you can be sure as you continue to experience life in Jesus Christ that He has you securely cocooned in Him, period! Because of this truth there is no need to joust with windmills; not one of us ever has to be caught in the Don Quixote Syndrome! Believe me it isn’t worth the time it takes or the time it wastes! Just remember that in all things we serve the One who created each one, so in Him we can serve each one He sends into our lives as we serve Him!
“In all the work you are given, do the best you can. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, who will give you what he promised his people. Yes, you are serving Christ. He is your real Master.” Colossians 3:23-24 Easy-to-Read Version