Thinking back on the theology I was taught in my early years, somehow love one another didn’t get through (maybe I wasn’t paying attention). Oh, I understood good Samaritan love . . . helping the old lady down the street with her yard work. Or putting the neighbor’s newspaper behind the screened door. This kind of love was obligatory. As a Christian, I was obligated to do it. Back in Jesus’ day, everything was obligatory. Obey Rome. Obey Jewish law. Obey the 613 laws created to help you obey Jewish law!
But then our Savior came along and elevated two laws above all other laws. Love God. Love each other. He changed the theme from love because you have to, to love because you want to. “Love because I loved you first.” “Love because they’ll know you are my disciples by your love.”
Merriam Webster defines a slave as “one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.” The Apostle Paul talked about no longer being a slave to sin. I’ve talked for years about how the how we won’t turn over to God are dominating influences. They own us! The person we’re angry at owns us. The person we won’t forgive owns us. The habits and additions we won’t give up own us. We’re slaves to them.
Jesus’ earliest followers were Jewish. They were attempting to obey the law and were anxiously awaiting the Messiah like everyone else. When they met Jesus, watched His life, and heard His words, they moved in His direction. It seems, at least to me, that somewhere along the way they got it. They saw His love in action. His compassion for the least of these. How He came to the defense of the defenseless, even against the most powerful forces in their culture.
And I believe Jesus acknowledged their progress when He declared them friends. And later, after the resurrection and Pentecost, declared them sons.
You and I are sons and daughters. Not because we’re good enough. Not because we deserve it. We’ve been set free from the slavery of sin and adopted into the family of the God of the universe.
Ain’t that amazing . . . grace?
Scriptures: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:7)