What do you do for a living? That is often one of the first questions we ask when we meet someone new. The answer to that one question provides many clues to what a person is like. What you do says a lot about you. For Jesus followers, the answer is a little tricky. While our jobs pay the bills, it is not what life is all about. What we really do for a living is serve Jesus. I will be quick to add that I have yet to find a good way to say that without causing confusion or coming off as “better than.” Perhaps that’s for the best, it’s often better for people to see us serving Jesus instead of talking about it.
The second facet of who we are in Christ is contained with the word servant. The first facet of our diamond was about sonship and being an heir. As a son we are to be about Father God’s business; doing stuff rather than getting stuff. The second facet is also about doing stuff and deals with our attitudes.
In talking about being a servant or a slave we must be sensitive to the facts of history and current events. We recognize the horrific realities of the slave trade that soiled the New World and America’s beginnings. We also grieve over those caught in the slave trade that still exists today. And yet the Bible uses those terms to describe our condition before following Christ and as we follow Him now. Before Christ, we were slaves to sin. Sold into bondage, serving the idols of our own creation and choosing. (John 8:34, Romans 6:6) But Jesus has freed us from slavery and now we choose to serve Him. But we don’t serve out of compulsion or the fear of punishment; we serve because we love Jesus and are loved by Jesus. It’s not a perfect example but in some ways, our servanthood towards Jesus is like that seen in “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey”. It was more than just employment for those that served, it was a lifestyle.
The lifestyle of servanthood is the example given to us by Jesus. One day Jesus’ disciples argued over who was the greater among them. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25–28, NASB95) This attitude is seen in Christ-followers throughout the New Testament. Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John all gave “servant of Christ Jesus” as their primary title in their letters. For instance, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” (Romans 1:1, NASB95) I think that it is interesting and instructive that these men of faith, these foundation stones laid upon the cornerstone of Christ, declared their servanthood instead of their sonship.
Like being a son, being a servant means that we are doing the Father’s business. The difference is one of heart attitude. A son comes off as special, perhaps even a bit proud. A servant comes off as humble, just one of many serving the King of Kings in innumerable ways. It doesn’t matter our station in life or what our day job is. Wherever we go, whatever we do, whoever we meet, we are servants of Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus, laid down His life as a ransom. We too are called to the same work but not in the same scope. As servants, we are to lay down our lives so that we might win some to Christ’s kingdom.
When we shine the light of Jesus on this facet of the diamond of who we are in Christ, what should we see? This facet amplifies the doing seen in sonship but bends the light towards humility and having a Christlike attitude in all that we do.