How a Mom Says Hello

I was recently given a passage on which to preach:  Philippians 1:1-2.  It starts like this:  "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus."  What do you do with that?  It's the greeting.  It's the introduction.  It's 'hello.'  But the more I researched, the more I understood that how we say hello, says everything.  

The Gentiles reading this letter would have understood the word 'servant' as 'slave.'  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the word ‘slavery’ is a great word for marketing Christianity.  Who wants to be enslaved to something?  ‘Come one.  Come all!  Be a Christian.  Be a slave to Jesus!’  That doesn’t sound all that appealing. 

But the truth is that we’re often slaves of something.  Everyone in my family would agree that Timothy, our youngest, was a challenging baby.  His scream was loud and persistent.  If Tim wanted the book in Jack’s hand, Jack gave it to him.  If Tim wanted the truck in Sam’s hand, Sam gave it to him.  If Tim wanted the spatula I was cooking with, he got it….all to keep him quiet.

One day I had a friend over and she said to me:  “Pat, Tim owns you.”  And it was true, I belonged to a one year old.  Maybe you know what it’s like to be owned by your toddler or your teen or even a friend or a spouse.  I think it’s true that many of us are slaves to something.

Maybe you’re not a slave to another person, but to an addiction.  You belong to alcohol or prescription medication.  You’re a slave to shopping or work, or your home, or your lawn, or your kitchen, or your garden.  Or your kids.  

Some women are slaves to fear or anxiety or anger.

If I’m going to be a slave to something, I want to be a slave to Jesus Christ.  I want to belong to Him.  And you do belong to Jesus when you trust that His sacrifice—His death and resurrection was enough to make you right with God.  We were purchased by God through the blood of Jesus Christ:  Fanny Crosby wrote:  “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.  Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.  Heir of salvation, purchase of God…”  We belong to him. 

I trust Him with my life.  And when you’re a slave to Jesus Christ, there's freedom in serving.

And here we see Paul and Timothy freely serving the Philippian church.  That’s the other idea behind the word ‘slave.’  Although Gentiles would have known the word to mean slavery, they also would have understood that the Jewish world of the Bible used the same word for slavery to mean ‘servant.’  The phrase ‘servant of Christ’ was even used as a title.   But it implied that yes, Paul and Timothy belonged to Jesus, but they also served God’s people.  In this case, the Philippians. In your name the city/town/houselhold that you serve.

And that’s at the core of who we are as Christians.  We belong to Jesus Christ and we freely serve others on his behalf.  

Imagine how your day would change if you really believed that.  If you woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror and said, “I belong to Jesus…not to this house, that addiction, that job, that fear.  I belong to Jesus.”  And when you know to whom you belong, your service will be on his behalf--the laundry, the sippy cups, the chauffeuring, even the cooking.   Remind yourself of who you are today.  You belong to Jesus.  And knowing that fact will make a difference in the way you serve others in your Philippi today. Jesus changes everything.  Even how you say hello.

Patricia Batten