Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus . . .
I can become too familiar with some phrases in the Bible, like this one: “a servant of Christ.” When that happens, it’s easy not to pay much attention. Eugene Petersen, in The Message, his contemporary language version of the Bible, treats those words this way: “I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment. . . .” That catches my attention.
Calling himself a servant says something about Paul. He knew better than we do what servants were and how they fit into the culture of his time. But hearing Paul introduce himself as “a devoted slave on assignment” gives me pause. Paul wasn’t just a member in some new movement. He wasn’t just a theologian trying to make sense of new ideas he had come across. He wasn’t just a preacher looking for an audience. Paul was a devoted slave of Someone who was not just anyone but the Lord of heaven and earth.
For a Roman citizen—which Paul was—to begin a letter to people in Rome that way demands our attention. Paul is unabashedly connected to Jesus— even enslaved. His opening identification highlights his relationship with Christ as Lord.
That makes me ask, “How do I identify with Jesus?”—because that’s what the Christian faith is all about, first and foremost.
Lord Jesus, the attractions and distractions of my life can lure me from being devoted to you. Help me to grow in seeing your presence and work everywhere, and in connecting with who you are. In your name, Amen.
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