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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jesus and the disciples condoned slavery and I’m thankful!

Jesus and the disciples condoned slavery and I’m thankful! (AZ are you crazy?)
A recent comment placed on an inappropriate post (Fortune Teller Part two) because it has nothing to do with the subject matter said this.
The children of slaves were innocent. They suffered due to the scripture regarding slavery in the Bible. This can not be denied. Did Jesus condemn the institution of slavery? He certainly didn't. His followers used language which gave tacit approval to it: Ephesians 6:5-9: Colossians 4:1: 1 Timothy 6:1-3 Does all morality stem from the Bible? No, secular society has outlawed slavery. Is the Bible literally true? If so, Ephesians 6:5-9: is the perfect justification for slavery. We now believe slavery to be unequivocally evil. Any Christian church will tell you that. Maybe slaveholders weren't really Christians? Is there vague language in the Bible which will "prove" my assertions untrue?
He most likely does not want a real answer and just wants an argument, but because he at least did not engage in personal attack as he did before (I’m somewhat certain it is the same guy) I will humor him and try to answer the best way I can. After all maybe he will someday understand. And God is not willing that any should perish. So one more try.

Did Jesus Christ and his disciples condone slavery? Yes, they did, and we must be thankful for it!
Thankful? Huh? Did I just say that? I must be out of my mind, right? Actually, I would be out of my mind not to be thankful. What? Well keep reading and see why.

One of the greatest apostles of Jesus was Paul, who had this to say to slaves and their masters:
"Servants, be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ; not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is bound or free. You masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with him." (Ephesians 6:5-9, WEB) (Please note: "Servants" in this passage means "slaves," or “bondservants” as some Bible translations have it.)

Regarding slavery, here is what Jesus said:
"If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people." (Matthew 20:26-28, CEV)
"Whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else." (Mark 10:44, NLT)

The slavery Jesus and Paul spoke of is a very different type of slavery than we know. The slavery they condoned is serving people with absolute selfless love, regardless what positions we are in: doctors, teachers, employers and employees, parents and children, and yes in that time bond servants, and masters.
Jesus taught that the two most important commandments are number one, love God, and second, love others as you love yourself: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31, ASV)
Jesus never condoned the cruel and ruthless slavery that humans have brought upon one another, because if you love others as you love yourself you would never be a ruthless cruel slave master. It seems so obvious doesn’t it.

Now on to slavery as our western mind or perspective knows it or thinks of it.
In the Old Testament, God did permit slavery for Israelites, but that slavery was also very different than the horrible treatment of slaves we know from the slavery of blacks in America. For example, God ordered male slaves to be set free after six years of service; but if the slaves loved their masters and didn't want freedom, the masters could have them for life. If girls were sold as slaves, the masters should care for them as wives; the masters should treat them as daughters if they married their sons. The penalty for kidnapping and selling people would be DEATH. (Exodus 21)
On Hebrew slavery Leviticus 25:35-43 says this
‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you. You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.’
Notice that the sole motive for allowing ‘slavery’ is actually humanitarian so the poor can continue in the land, and that it is NEVER ‘forever’ like the slavery we think of. The type of slavery we think of was forbidden and you would get the death penalty for doing it as you will see if you read Ex. 21:16 and Deut. 24:7.
The only clear case of involuntary servitude that was allowed was in the case of a thief that was too poor to make restitution for goods stolen, and here is was strictly an economic measure to repay the wrong doing – see Ex. 22:3

But why didn't Jesus condemn the institution of the oppressive form of slavery of the Romans?
To answer this, we must understand why Jesus came to Earth in the first place. He came here to fulfill very specific missions in a short span of time. Simply put, he was command-oriented. That means he was set to accomplish only what he was commissioned to do by Jehovah God Almighty.
Jesus' coming was, first, to teach people about God's Kingdom, and, second, to die in order to save us.
And by accomplishing his mission, he really in turn will abolished slavery for ever (but this won't be fulfilled until God's Kingdom is fully established on Earth). Once the Kingdom begins to reign in full power on earth (and it will), there will be no more tears, pain, suffering, and everyone will be happy and in peace for eternity. This is obviously a bigger more all encompassing long term goal than focusing on this Roman slavery issue. This is typical of those who put God on trial they only see the small picture and the present time. Just like those who tried and crucified Jesus. They wanted a savior that would free them from the Roman occupation and when He could not be controlled and did not do what they wanted Him to do they turned on him. We do that to when God won’t do it our way and in our time, and the way we think it should be done. We put Him on trial bring up accusations such as the commenter said “. They suffered due to the scripture regarding slavery in the Bible.” But it is just not true or founded when you really think and really want to see the truth. We want God to free us of what we see as the problem, like slavery, or bigotry, Roman occupation, or human violence and the suffering that comes with it. But God’s plan will free us of all of that and much more, in fact He will free us of SIN, PRIDE, FEAR, HATE, GUILT, SHAME, GREED, BITTERNESS, RESENTMENT, SUFFERING, SORROW, REBELLION, LIES, INJUSTICE, ARROGANCE, and so much more. And most importantly DEATH ! You see when God’s plan plays out it will ALL be resolved
Right now and to all eternity, those who choose to follow Christ become the slaves to righteousness, of Jehovah God and His Son Jesus, our Messiah. We serve with gladness selflessly, for God is the best master anyone could ever have. If you ask me, we would be crazy not to rejoice over this privilege we have! But God will not force you into being His servant, because He is not that kind of master.
In the end we all are slaves to something in our lives, some by choice, some not. I myself am a slave to my mortgage payment, and my other financial obligations. As Bob Dylan said “Your Gonna have to serve somebody.” “It may be the devil or it may be THE LORD, but you’re gonna have serve somebody”.
Me? Well I choose to serve the Lord because being a slave to Him allows the most freedom. And it is a lie from Satan the father of lies that tells you anything else.

Thanks again to the commenter who gave me something of value to write about even if it was not the intent, but God will always turn bad to good for those who follow Him.

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