“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God….” (Romans 1:1)
The ancient world used various words, as we do in English. We might speak of servants, slaves, and stewards. Each one bears a different nuance. The ancient bond-servant stood apart from the rest. This person, male or female, was a servant by choice and a servant for life. They declared allegiance to their master without coercion. They affirmed their willingness to indenture themselves for the rest of their lives.
What a powerful way to view our commitment to Christ; servants by choice, servants for life.
On this Ash Wednesday, as we commence the Lenten season, what better affirmation could we make?
We might declare that we are children of God, citizens of the Kingdom, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). We might also ponder the significance of opening this Lenten season with the same words with which Paul opened his ancient letter to the Romans — “a bond-servant of Christ Jesus.”
This powerful image could hold us in good stead for the next 40 days, and beyond.
Servants do not call the shots. They listen. Lent offers a wonderful opportunity to practice listening.
Servants do not pick and choose. If the Master gives guidance, the servant obeys. What might Christ call us to do in this season; acts of mercy, grace, generosity, reconciliation?
Servants do not decide the timing. When Christ says “now”, will we have the courage and commitment this Lent to lean into whatever He says?
Ash Wednesday, today, invites us to embrace one of the most fundamental Christian images in the New Testament. What might that mean for you?
Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I surrender myself again, by choice and for life, to You. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven … to me and through me. I am Your servant, now and always. Amen.