As we take the step to believe we enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship brings a believer into a position of belonging to God and His Church. God has hardwired the need to belong into our DNA.
When we come to Christ, we are redeemed, made a new creation, adopted as children of God, and heirs to God’s Kingdom and Kingdom resources. This new position in Christ is something that ought to draw us to Christ and cause us to embrace our belonging to Him. But, what does it mean to belong to Him? It means we are in a loving relationship with our eternal, loving, heavenly Father. However, what I find interesting is that one of the primary images we find of belonging to God in Scripture is that of a slave. Now honestly most of us resist the concept of slavery. Our own nation’s history makes this word stick in our throat. This is a reasonable response. The thought of one person being owned by another person against his will is abhorrent. That is why it’s fascinating that it’s absolutely appropriate for each of us to choose to be slaves of God, whom we live in a loving relationship with and long to serve with our lives.
We find in the book of Exodus an interesting offer. If someone wanted to be a slave by choice, they could choose to be a bond slave (Exo 21:2-6). A bond slave did not sign up for limited servitude but would make a lifetime commitment of service. A bond slave surrendered himself and gave up all his rights – permanently – to his master. The nature of the servant’s new relationship to the master would be no secret. The transaction was made in a public ceremony where a sharp instrument would pierce a hole in the servant’s ear, signifying obedience to the voice of the master. This decision was irreversible. Once the servant had gone through the ear-piercing ceremony, he would always be branded as a bond slave. He would always have a hole in his ear to remind him that he was not his own. Now, certainly, God placed this practical scenario in Scripture to describe the process of voluntary slavery, but I believe in a greater sense it points us to Christ and to depict our relationship with Him.
In Scripture, we discover that Jesus Christ offered Himself as a bond slave to God the Father for His glory and our salvation (Psalm 40:6, 8; Phil 2:7). We also find in the New Testament that the apostles Peter and Paul, along with James and Jude, followed in the steps of the Great Bond Slave when each identified himself as a bond slave of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1). These early followers of Christ provide a pattern for every believer who wants to be like their Lord. We are all to offer ourselves as bond slaves of the Lord. Belonging to God means, in part, being marked as His slave.
When I believe in Christ for my salvation, I not only belong to Him, but to His church. Believers are to be raised in understanding what this means. The Lord desires His Church to be a place of belonging. God’s Church is a place where those far from Christ can find salvation and loving acceptance – a place they were created to belong. As God’s Church, we are invited to live the abundant life found in Christ. This abundant life speaks of spiritual abundance which focuses not on duration but of a relationship with God where a follower of Christ continues to journey with Him through a continual process of learning, practicing, and maturing, as well as failing, recovering, adjusting, enduring, and overcoming. Such a community not only glorifies God and is blessed, but also is a real benefit to others. Believers are blessed in our belonging to God and belonging to one another as His Church, and it is through our oneness (our loving belonging) that we are a witness to others so they too may choose to believe (John 17:20-21).
I wonder if I act more like a temporary servant of God or like one who belongs to Him and is willing to be His permanent slave (a bond slave)? I belong to Him! I belong to His Church! I am a slave of God! How about you? Believers belong to God and His Church.
It is a privilege to do life with each of you. Let us be committed to grow and help others grow in understanding and walking in our belonging to God and His Church. Let us live as slaves of our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!