I heard a story about a private soldier who was attending a communion service. When it came time for him to leave his seat and go and receive the bread and wine, he noticed that his major was in the queue behind him. So he stood back to let the senior officer go first. But the man refused. As the story goes, he said, ‘Anywhere else, but not in here.’ We are on level ground before the cross.
Paul did not campaign against slavery. It would have been futile for him to do so under the Roman Empire. But it could be argued that he sowed the seeds of its destruction in his revolutionary teaching about masters and slaves. They could sit together in the same pew, you might say, and call each other ‘brother.’
However, Paul wanted the Christian slaves to understand that they should not abuse their privileged position of serving fellow-Christians (2). They were not to ‘short change’ them in any way.
Whoever we are; whatever we do; whether we are slaves or free, we need to understand that by our behaviour we can discredit the God we claim to love and the teaching we say we follow. There is urgency about understanding this point because so much is at stake. It really is important. Eyes are on us, and how we live matters.
‘’Whoever is a slave must make the best of it, giving respect to his master, so that outsiders don’t blame God and our teaching for his behaviour. Slaves with Christian masters all the more so – their masters are really their beloved brothers!’’ The Message.