We regularly have interesting theological discussions at our house. It comes with the territory of having a pastor and seminarian, a Bible teacher, and various highly opinionated persons, all in the home. Conversations lately have set my mind churning on what it means to be a willing bond-servant in God’s kingdom.
A bond-servant is a slave, in plain words. Who wants to be a slave? Any hands going up?
Slavery language makes us uncomfortable, but a bond-slave is exactly what Paul calls himself – a willing, happy bond-slave of the King. I think some folks are uncomfortable taking on that identity, for eternity.
Another way of defining myself is to admit that I am a creature. Someone else designed me, decided I would exist, and set my purpose and abilities. I am not a “self-made man” (or woman) as the great American tradition claims. I am other-made.
This is a humbling fact of existence, and one that makes some Christians squirm. We like to set our own goals, form our own destinies, search for our own dreams and guide our own lives. Who wants to be somebody else’s creature? Any hands going up?
For you Harry Potter fans, perhaps an image of the house elves comes to mind. Dobby, the loving, almost-fawning Harry Potter fan. He would die for Harry. He loves Harry. Harry gave Dobby his freedom from horrible slavery, and afterward Dobby commits his life to being Harry’s slave – a willing slave. Harry’s shadow. We don’t loathe Dobby for his servitude. We admire him.
Then there’s Creature, the other house elf. Sullen and cruel, he lurks around the Black home, looking for interference and mischief to do. But in Rowling’s world, both elves are doing what they were created to do: serve. Whether in sullen resentment or joyful service, both are “creatures.” Neither can escape that role.
I am a creature, designed by God to adore Him, serve Him, follow Him, obey Him, and listen for His voice – and all that happily. It’s a high calling, a hard pill to swallow, for those of us who’ve thought we must have self-directed lives. I am God’s created thing. He made me for Himself because that is the highest calling, the highest honor, He can bestow on a created thing. The fact remains: once you are a created thing, you can never be anything other than that. My existence is dependent upon another, my creator.
Perhaps we spend too much time dwelling on the fact that we bear God’s image. We want to feel the divine within. When we get carried away, like Eve, we listen to the little voice telling us we can be gods too. Instead, listen to the voice of God, telling you the truth about yourself: “You are my much-beloved creature. Do what I created you to do.”