Paul introduced himself to the church of Rome as a “servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1, ESV). This is a translation of the Greek word, doulos, which could also be translated as bondservant, or slave. Paul was, by his own eager proclamation, a slave to Christ.
Lest there should be any confusion, Paul makes this point only all the more clear in Romans 6, in which he exhorts Christ-followers to realize themselves as “slaves of righteousness.” His letter to the church of Corinth supports this identity when he reminds his readers that “you are not your own” (1 Cor 6:19); a considerable affront to our modern-day American sense of individualism and autonomy.
Therefore, we who call and consider ourselves Christians are to understand ourselves as not authoritative over our own selves, be that physically, mentally or spiritually. We have a master; a Lord; a commander; an owner, and it is He and He alone who calls the shots in our lives. We may make requests, but ultimately we are not self-governed. We are His, and He is ours.
Fortunately for us, unlike men who are owned by men, we are owned by an eternal, all-powerful, everlasting and good God who we can trust to govern us well. He governs us better than we can ever hope to govern ourselves, and we trust Him to direct us even when our deceptive and short-term driven desires would lead us to do otherwise. We trust Him to know our deepmost desires better than we can know them ourselves, and we trust Him to know what is best for us with the knowledge He and He alone has, far beyond what we can ever hope to see from our immeasurably more modest vantage points.
That is why I wish I had–or rather wish that I employed the boldness God has given me to introduce myself as Paul did so frequently; as a slave to my master. My name and vocation have so little meaning compared to my identity as a slave to Christ, if in fact I am grafted into His vine, that it seems outright silly to introduce myself in any other way.
Obviously, it would put people off-kilter, at least in America, but so what? Maybe we need more of that. If it might lead someone to an eternal community with Christ, is it really so great a sacrifice to be the weird guy or girl who responds to the question, “What do you do?” with an atypical answer that might reorient an eternal soul?
I mean seriously: do we, oh fellow Christians, really believe forever exists? And if we do, how does that change us? How can that not change us? How alarmed ought we be if our understanding of forever, graciously given us by God, does not affect our identities or conversations? If we are still merely names and vocations?
I am a slave to my Lord; a slave to righteousness. I am a servant of Christ and a sinner saved by grace.
Father: Please, give us the boldness to do the work that matters most. Give us and give me the courage to go and make disciples. To respond as an enthusiastic slave to You. You are my God, and I am grateful that my life is not directed by me, but by You. Please, remind me regularly of who I am, and why I submit to you not out of dutifulness, but in a spirit of eager anticipation for the good things that I and others can only experience in You.