Hayden Parrish 1.29.20
Growing up, one of my youth group’s favorite songs was Pierce My Ear. You may have already started humming the tune, or maybe you have never heard it before. Either way, here are the words:
Pierce my ear, O Lord, my God.Take me to Your door this day.I will serve no other god.Lord, I’m here to stay.For You have paid the price for me.With Your blood You ransomed me.I will serve You eternally.A free man I’ll never be.So pierce my ear, O Lord, my God.Take me to Your door this day.I will serve no other god.Lord, I’m here to stay.Lord, I’m here to stay.
If you were like me, I had no idea what I was singing when I was in youth group (all I knew was that I did NOT want to get my ears pierced!) It wasn’t until much later that I learned that Pierce My Ear was inspired by a law in Exodus 21:1-6. It was a command for temporary slaves who wanted to pledge their allegiance to their master for the rest of their life. These slaves, who had the option of walking away in freedom, demonstrated their love and submission to a master by piercing their ear against the master’s doorpost with an awl. The song admits what we rarely say, “a free man, I’ll never be.”
The metaphor of being a slave to God is all over scripture, yet we often cringe at the concept. Part of this is due to our country’s history with the evils of slavery, and part is our understanding of freedom. In our context, freedom is understood as a person’s ability to live as he sees fit and choose their own path. It isn’t uncommon to hear the phrase “It’s a free country” when someone is making a (usually foolish) decision for themselves.
Paul, the apostle, talked about his freedom with a seemingly contradictory metpahor. In Philippines 1:1, He and Timothy introduce themselves as δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ (slaves of Christ). Some translations render this word “servant” or “bondservant”, but the concept is the same in Greek. The book of James and Jude open with this title as well.
Also, in Romans 6, Paul asks the church to become exercise their freedom from sin by becoming slaves. How can we be “free” from sin only then to be chained to Christ? This certainly rubs up against our western understanding of freedom.
Paul understood that true life is found when he surrendered worthless freedoms for better ones. He understood that the yoke of Christ was easy and light, even to the point of saying, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He found true freedom in the seemingly upside down and backwards concept of chaining his existence to the reality of Christ.
Just like the song, Paul was invited to eternally serve the kind and compassionate master for eternity. We are invited too! We have the opportunity to say, “Lord, I’m here to stay.”
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Read Romans 6:15-23 together. Have each person turn to one neighbor and share what they understand from the reading. What questions do you have? What do you think the “big idea” in this passage is? You may want to ask each person to share with the group what their partner said.
How do you think that sin is like slavery? What is the fruit of being a slave to sin?
Have you ever thought of yourself as a “Slave to God” or a “Slave to Righteousness”? What do these terms mean? Why or why not? What difference do you think the perspective of your life could make?
How does the title “Slave to Righteousness” make you feel? Are you comforted by it or does it make you uneasy?
Check out vs. 23. What is the difference between the words “wages” and “gift”? Why do you think Paul make this distinction?
If eternal life is a gift, why do we make the effort to resist sin and live a righteous life?