“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…” —Romans 1:1
The foundation of all Paul’s activities and ambitions lie in his understanding that he is a servant of Jesus Christ. The word “servant” is a neglected one in our contemporary Christian vocabulary, but is a frequently used word in the New Testament. By the end of the apostolic era, the common description of a Christian was that he or she is a servant of Jesus Christ.
That may sound somewhat oppressive to us, because the whole idea of servitude is not an attractive one, nor is it the kind of life we want to embrace. But in actual fact, it is very liberating, and there are three very good reasons why. When we see ourselves as servants, we are concerned with our master’s plan and recognize there is someone who is going to direct our lives. Left to control our own lives, we are unable to control the consequences, but with Christ as our master the consequences are His responsibility.
A servant does not come with his own agenda, but submits to the agenda of the one who directs him. Christ is the Master and as Christians, we are His servants. We have the assurance that when we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He is going to direct our paths. It is His job to put us where He wants us to be and we know wherever we are is because God has placed us there, which gives our work a divine purpose.
Secondly, a servant is also dependent on his master’s provision. When a master gives instructions, he has to provide the resources to accomplish them, and in Jesus Christ we have ample resources for any task He calls us to. Thirdly, if the servant is concerned with his master’s plans and dependent on his master’s provisions, he or she is also committed to his master’s purpose. Sometimes we do not know the significance of the things God leads us to do, but He is the Master Planner, and the one who knows how we are contributing to an overall purpose in fulfilling His agenda.
Far from being oppressive, being a servant of Jesus Christ is tremendously fulfilling. We can begin every new day knowing we have someone who is capable of directing our paths, providing the resources, and who is going to cause our lives to be significant because of it. It is only as we live with submission to Christ as Lord and Master that we find all the benefits and blessings that derive from living in relationship with Him.