The good and faithful slave

I want to develop a couple of things I briefly touched on in the Harriet Tubman post. I said there that by inciting slaves to run away to the North, Harriet Tubman led her people astray, into disobedience to God. I also said,

My response does not represent a complete view of slavery, or of slavery as it existed in the American South. As an example, I know that some slaves were justified in running away.

No authority is absolute except God’s. It follows that there are circumstances where it is lawful to flee. The abolitionists went too far in offering freedom to one and all, but some slaves legitimately fled for their lives.

There is more that needs to be said regarding slavery in the American South, and I pray that the Lord blesses my studies so that soon I am able to speak more about it. But what I want to address in the rest of this post is that there is something wrong in our total modern Christian understanding of slavery that must be corrected… As I wrote in the other post,

But if our total view of the office of slave is, “Run away!” and our total view of the office of master is, “You must let your slaves go, now!” then we will be impeded, even prevented, from understanding what saving faith is, and from knowing and loving God. These are the stakes regarding the issue of slavery.

What does our understanding of the office of slave have to do with faith or love of God? Well, we need to understand that we all are slaves, either of God or of Satan (Romans 6:16-23 and other places). Of course, we are not only slaves; we are also sons, and friends. But what we want to hear at the end is, “Well done, good and faithful slave.” If only for our own sakes, then, we must understand and come to terms with slavery from the slave’s perspective. We must be willing to learn how to be a good and faithful slave.

Here’s a start:

  • A good slave has no agenda but his master’s. (obedience)
  • A good slave’s entire will is dedicated to seeing his master’s plans succeed. (wisdom)

Time and again Jesus’ parables locate us in the place of the wicked or faithful slave. And when His disciples said, “Increase our faith!” Jesus used an example regarding slavery—with the disciples first in the place of master, then in the place of slave—to teach them (Luke 17:5-10). It is important and good for us to understand and own our place as slaves. It is part of walking by faith. It is worthy of our study.

This is still just the barest sketch. I hope to develop this more in the future.

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