In this special post, pastor Matt introduces the sermon Dr. Desmond Henry will be preaching on at Ridgecrest Family Church this coming Sunday 12th February 2017. For the audio recordings and full sermon archive, visit www.ridgecrestchurch.org.za.
Have you ever wondered what it means to be a slave? Sure, we have all heard about slavery, seen it on television or learned about it in history class. But have you ever truly thought about slavery? The dictionary defines slavery as the following, “a condition of having to work very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation.” So essentially it means to be trapped in a situation where you are mistreated, abused and unappreciated, and often beaten if you underperform. Being a slave can be compared to receiving a prison sentence in our modern context, to be held captive in a situation where there is no escape and there is no hope.
Now, granted I have never personally experienced being a slave and I do not claim to understand what it means to be trapped in such a situation that a slave would find themselves in, however, I do know the feeling of being in a situation where there is no hope and where I felt trapped. A recent example is when I was almost arrested and detained during my mission’s trip to Botswana. I had overstayed my visa by 10 days, not by my own choice of course, but due to circumstance, and found myself in a situation where I had no way of knowing whether or not I would be able to leave the country or be detained in prison and receive a criminal record. Fortunately, I knew someone who was able to assist me and made a way for me to get out of the country, I still had to pay a hefty fee, but I was free of the burden of being in a situation of hopelessness and fear. I was a slave both to myself and the situation that I found myself in.
Slavery is a very real thing, even in our post-modern world, we often see and hear stories of child labor or the sex trade. The point is that slavery is very real and it is something that we have to consider and deal with even in our Christian context.
This leads me back to my question, what is slavery for us as believers in God? Have you ever experienced a situation where you found yourself being a slave to your own desires, your own circumstances or the situation in which you find yourself? Have you ever experienced that feeling of hopelessness, fear, abuse, and mistreatment or have you ever been underappreciated? Or do you feel as though you are free from all of this, Christ has set you free and you would no longer consider yourself a slave in any sense of the word?
Well allow me to make this statement, if you will, we are all slaves. We are not necessarily slaves in the sense of the dictionary definition where we are kept against our will and forced to work, but rather in the sense that we were once slaves to sin and by Christ’s death and resurrection we have been set free and are now slaves of Christ.
Allow me to explain what I mean, a slave is someone in a hopeless situation and is held captive, someone who has no rights, no possessions, no dignity. As humans, we are sinful by nature and often find ourselves in a hopeless, dark place where we feel as though we have nothing, no hope, no way out and no peace. However, once we commit our lives to God and make Him number one, once we have nothing in our lives that takes His place or are of more priority than Him we are set free. But once we are set free we become a bondservant to Christ and we give up all that we have in service of Him, our King.
What is a bondservant you may be asking? Well, a bondservant is someone who is bound to service to someone without expectation of anything in return. Sounds awfully similar to a slave right? The difference for us as Christians is that we were not taken into captivity and forced to be a slave of God, it is because God sent His Son to die for us and set us free that in our freedom we have no other response than to give our lives in service to God. Remember in my story where I said that I knew a man who could help me get out of a desperate situation and despite his help I still had to pay a hefty fee to be set free, well I know of another man who can set you free from your situation and whatever you may be facing that is holding you captive and guess what? The price has been paid in full. That man’s name is Jesus Christ and most of us know Him, but some of us may not.
So my question is this, do you want to be a slave to sin and a slave to this world being held captive? Or do you want to be set free into the life and service that our God and King has for us? Who is number one in your life? Because that one decision can make all of the difference
JOIN US AT RIDGECREST FAMILY CHURCH THIS COMING SUNDAY AT 09:30 AM TO HEAR THE FULL MESSAGE.
Matthew Karg has recently been appointed as our Next Generation Intern and will be working closely with Pastor Ezra Karrupan in Epic Kids and Tots, Schools ministry as well as out High School and Frontline Ministries. He graduated with a Bachelor of Theology in 2016 at the Baptist Theological College and has a passion for young people and a missional heart. I am looking forward to serving alongside Matt in 2017. I asked Matt to write an introduction to my message on Sunday as we’re starting up our 10-week series on Exodus 20, the 10 Commandments. I cannot wait to preach this Sunday and see how God’s word changes lives. Read Matt’s Intro below and join us at Ridgecrest Family Church this Sunday at 09:30 am (www.ridgecrestchurch.org.za).
DO IT GOD’S WAY
Have you ever wondered where our legal system came from? The set of rules that dictates and influences every decision that we make? Have you ever sat down and wondered who thought up every law that most, if not all countries have in place in their countries today? Who makes the rules?
Before we continue I would like to share a story with you about a time that I decided to break the rules and had to face the consequences due to the choices that I made.
When I was in grade 9 I dated a girl, and as with most high school relationships, it lasted all of four weeks. Needless to say, she broke up with me and I was absolutely devastated and decided that I should resolve my devastation and memories by drowning them in alcohol. I organized for my friend to purchase the desired alcohol for me and went home to tell my mother that I would be spending the weekend at a friend’s house. My mother, in her wisdom, new that I was struggling and advised against me going to spend the weekend away, and in my stubbornness decided that I would ignore her. Two hours later while kneeling in front of a bucket with borderline alcohol poisoning I wish that I had listened to my mother, that small part of my life would have been a lot better for it. Instead of honoring God by honoring my mother I disregarded both her advice and certain rules that she had set in place both for my protection as well as for a better life for me in the long run.
Isn’t that so often how we live our lives, either in a sense of stubbornness to the rules or with a minimal understanding of the rules, their purpose and why they have been put in place?
Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t like the rules, we don’t like to follow them because we feel that they sometimes act like restrictions more than anything else. And sometimes following rules religiously can be trying and tiring.
But what if I told you that the rules are there to give you freedom? What if I told you that the rules are there to better your lifestyle and are to your benefit?
Maybe we need a change of mind-set, a change of mind-set where we see Christianity not as a set of religious rules, but rather as a relationship with guidelines that lead us into living life God’s way. But how do we do that and what are some of these guidelines that lead us into a more godly lifestyle?
What separates Christianity from other religions is summed up, I feel, in the following section of a poem by Jefferson Bethke:
“Now back to the topic, one thing I think it vital to mention,
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums,
One is the work of God, one is a man-made invention,
One is the cure and one is the infection.
Because religion says do, Jesus says done.
Religion says slave, Jesus says son,
Religion puts you in shackles but Jesus sets you free.
Religion makes you blind but Jesus lets you see.”
Pastor Matt Karg, Next Generation Ministries, Ridgecrest Family Church