Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Favorite Word in the Bible

I am a nerd. Most of you by now should pick up on this based on how I write and how I find the dumbest thing funny and entertaining. (On a side note I am also a 5 year old at heart so it all works out well in the end). Every nerd, whether small or great, if they are Christians, should consider adopting a word from the bible which they call their favorite. As a nerd, I have chosen mine. In fact, I chose it long ago without even knowing. The funny part is that it ends up being the center piece of my life verse.

The bible word: Bondservant. But why stop there, let's nerd it out even more. In the greek, Bondservant looks something like this: δοῦλος. The word is read doulos, and is pronounced "dew-lows". The meaning of the word I think carries a huge weight. What's important about the word is not so much the word itself, but more so what it applies to.

The definition of doulos is the following:
1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
a) a slave
b) one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
2) a servant, attendant

It's root word in the greek is: deo, which means:
1) to bind tie, fasten
a) to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains
b) metaph.
1) Satan is said to bind a woman bent together by means of a demon, as his messenger, taking possession of the woman and preventing her from standing upright
2) to bind, put under obligation, of the law, duty etc.
a) to be bound to one, a wife, a husband
3) to forbid, prohibit, declare to be illicit

Why what is the big deal about the word? This isn't going to be a blog about how to be a servant or some giant exposition on humility, No. I want to know what you are doulos to? Ever stopped to wonder who's at the other end of your chain? What do I mean? Well as a bondservant, you are, according to definition, slave to something or someone. Additionally, based on the root word for doulos, you are bound to something. So let me ask the above question again, what has you bound?

When I was in high school, I had a monster chaplain. He was always quick to challenge the students and drive home the parts of the gospel they didn't want to hear. One day, after a really sweet message regarding the center of our universe, I had some questions regarding his sermon. See most of my life I was slave to my doubt. I had a hard time accepting the love of God. I never had peace. Most of my life I lived in fear. Fear of death, deathly fear of God and what He thought of me. This fear, this lack of peace, took me to horrible places and for years caused me a lot of torment. When I went up to him to speak to him regarding his sermon, it was to find the answer to the sleep-depriving question I had: "What does that mean? To have Christ at the center? And how can He actually Love Me? Why?"

His response was simple, and it was this response that came back to me one afternoon as I was reading through James 1:2-4 on joy. "Chris, what is at the center of your universe? Your joy will last as long as whatever is at the center of your universe." When I heard the answer, I just nodded and smiled. What did that mean? To have Christ at the center of my universe? I had heard it so many times, however, like most sunday school answers I received, that was as far as it went, hearing.

Being a bondservant goes beyond simply hearing a word. To be bound to something, to be slave to someone is to not be able to make a decision or think a thought without first considering the thing to which your bound. Think about that. There is something in all of our lives that affects or influences our decisions. What people sometimes seem to overlook is that we can be slave to more than just the TV, or slave to sports, slave to working out, no being a slave goes beyond that. You have heard of being slaves to sin, however, what about being a slave to something like say shame? What about being slave to doubt? Slave to guilt? Slave to depression?

When I was in 7th grade, a friend of mine and I went on a trip down a river in central Florida called "The Peace River." In search of the very thing the river was named after, I went along with him in hopes to find some answer or at least make some new friends. I can't remember a majority of the trip, however, I remember at one point getting one on one with the pastor and just expressing to him my issues. His response: "Well Chris, I pray that here on the peace river, you find peace, that peace that no one can explain." Wow thanks for the response. That whole trip those words stuck to me, but in the wrong way. I saw the search of peace hopeless.

Most of my life I did what most people do when they have an issue. I clouded my mind. I would keep myself busy. Fill my day with things to get my mind off of what was really bothering me. I was a slave to my doubt. Everytime I did something I knew was against God, I became a slave to my guilt, the chains became heavier. A slave to my shame. My shame, guilt, self-condemnation robbed me every day of whatever joy I could have. There were some days I couldn't enjoy a thing in that day. My mind was to busy doubting, worrying, questioning. I never had peace. No matter the place, no matter the person, no matter the relationship, no matter how in shape I was, I had no peace.

It's a cruel place to be. Stuck in a jail cell you built with your own hands, unable on some days to even move. On the outside I had it all, but inside, I was screaming. I was a slave to my doubt. So I ask you again, have you considered today what it is enslaves you? Remember that it goes beyond a person or a thing. To be a doulos to something is to forgo everything and anything else and consider that thing before anything else. In my case, before joy, before peace, I considered my shame and doubt. In my case, before going to church and reading the word, I would consider my mistakes, my guilt, and never make it into the parking lot.

When Paul used the word doulos in Gal 1:10 (which is my life verse) he used it because many thought he was fluffing up the gospel for the church of Galatia so that he could build up his own kingdom. Paul, however, in Gal 1:10 was refuting his critics by letting them know that he wasn't about winning anyone's approval except God's. Paul was so dead set on Christ that he wasn't for a second going to consider anyone else's approval. He wasn't going to even pay attention to what men thought. He was too busy about God's business to even care what someone else thought.

Let's take it a step further. In Phil 3, Paul talks about "forgetting what is behind me" which to me is to say, I am not going to even consider what mistakes I made in the past (and he did plenty bad), I am going to completely disregard what has come to pass in my stupidity. I am going to press on to Christ, my goal. For me, Paul brought to mind Romans 8:1. There is therefore NO condemnation in Christ. We have been forgiven of our sins and have been made new (Gal 2:20). We are no longer subject to the slavery of our sin, no longer subject to the slavery of our emotions, the slavery of shame, guilt, our past; we are slaves to Christ, forever forgiven and forever His.

Realize that we, as sons/daughters of God through Christ (Gal 4:7), are free and are slaves to Christ (1 Cor 7:22). What's funny is sometimes people forget that as slaves to Christ we are made free. People sometimes tend to focus on the restrictions and not on the freedom we find because of those restrictions. When Paul exhorts someone else as a bondservant, he in most cases is reminding them to be about their master's business (Col 3:22, 1 Tim 6:1, Titus 2:9).

It is hard to be about our Lord's business when we are drowning in our regret, spending to much time considering our failures and not enough time considering His sacrifice.

So what are you doulos to? For years I was a doulos to my shame, to my doubt. By the grace of God I have no reason to be now. Trust me when I say that even after having been born again, I have definitely made the biggest mistakes alive. To my shame I was still in my own mind slave to a sin I thought for months I had gotten rid of. We are never free from temptation, we are however free from the death grip of sin. "Sin has lost it's power, death has lost its sting, from the grave You've risen, victoriously" and may we never forget it...

I'll leave you with this:

Jesus went on that cross, despite how He felt. In the garden He asked God if the cup could be removed. What cup? The cup of wrath God would all at once pour on Him on the cross when He turned His back. Jesus became sin. But what does that mean? To say God didn't look on Him, how much does that weigh? Consider Jesus, the great I AM (John 8:58), He remembered His glory before He was on earth, and seeing as He was around in eternity past with and had been with God for eternity, imagine being separated from the person you had been with for eternity, to be separated from yourself. Our minds can't fathom that, and yet this is what is meant when I say Christ went to hell for us. Don't ever think that any sin weighs more than that sacrifice. When Jesus was being nailed to the cross and looked over at the centurion, I am sure He could remember forming that man in his mother's womb. If He wanted, He could have told that man how many hairs were on his head. His love will always and forever outweigh any shame, guilt, or fear that our sins might bring us. Don't ever forget the magnitude of His love. Be a doulos to Christ and Christ alone.

Isaiah 44:21 "Remember these, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."

"I have not been abandoned, no I have not been, deserted and I have not been forgotten" - Relient K (I Need You)

1 comment:

  1. For many years I was a bondservant to guilt and shame. I have finally come to a place where I am truly understanding God's grace towards me. I accept it.