I find it tragic that so many people just take the words on a page and call it God’s message. If you don’t look at the back story and the context you can’t understand the conversation between two parties. Sadly it is us Christians who have taught those who oppose our message that this is how you read scripture. Unfortunately it is not! This picture is the end result.
A group opposed to Jesus or worshipping a superior being of any type published this billboard. It has been circulating the internet and I found myself in a social media conversation with someone over this issue.
The message here is obvious. God is in favor of slavery. It quotes the verse with a laborer in a viciously restrictive ancient device. It talks about bronze age ethics. For those of you who do not know the bronze age ended at least 1000 years before Paul’s conversation going on with the Colossian church.
Oh and by the way the likely hood of these slaves looking African American with short hair, or even being of a different race from their masters, is not a high as you would think either. So it is the atheist who is manipulating your emotions and spinning half truths on the billboard this time. Nice try, atheists but smart people see through the game.
Let’s look at the passage now. After Paul talks directly with husbands, wives and children he moves on to slaves. He says this: “Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eyeservice, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (Colossians 3:22-4:1).”
Alright, so if we play by the rules we will look at this according to who is talking to who. Paul is talking to a Gentile church. The Gospel was changing the culture. Slavery was something that existed. Paul being part of the Christian minority was interested primarily in heart change. He believed that his church planting missionary efforts would be successful when hearts were changed and people began to follow after the living, risen Christ! He was right.
He doesn’t choose to take on the Empire or talk against the ills of slavery. We tend to think politically (Especially Americans). Paul wasn’t so interested in politics, because he believed if slaves and masters repented and believed on Jesus, the way they treated each other would change, and eventually maybe slavery would become a thing of the past. He speaks to both parties about living out their faith in love. He speaks to them both about their heavenly master and how they are operate for an audience of one.
We have a lot more to cover. Feel free to comment. I plan to answer other passages next week. The point is, don’t let people bully you. When we seek Jesus we will find Him and He is alive and well in the scriptures and in the hearts of His people, even living today.