Ephesians 6:5-9: Slaves and Masters

While it might surprise you to hear this, not everybody in the world thinks that slavery is unfair. Actually, it's even alive and well here in America, as sex slave trading goes all too frequently unchecked. All this is to say that if you think that we as a society of human beings has moved beyond the issue of slavery, you are sadly mistaken.

But that's not the only point.

Paul's instructions to the slaves in this passage is that even though their situation might not be fair, to truly respect Christ and Christ's work in the world, you should perform the duties asked of you regardless. He even equates the work that they are doing as work unto the Lord, not work unto the masters that are over them. I don't think this is an advocation for slavery by any means, but what I think is hidden here in the passage is the subtle notion that occasionally in life we're going to be asked to do things that don't seem fair. A few hard working volunteers in churches often end up doing the work of the rest of the congregation, frequently to the tune of 20%-80% (As in 20% of the congregation does 80% of the work). As a guy who frequently found himself in the 20%, it was easy to complain and make a big stink about how it's not fair that I had to do all that. In short, I think Paul would tell me to take my self out of the equation, and realize that my service is to the Lord. I think there's a HUGE lesson us often over-loaded youth pastors can learn there.

But again, that's not the (only) point.

Paul writes this letter to a crowd of people that presumably contains both slaves and masters. How awkward is that? What would it look like to address a crowd of people that contains a group that owns humans AND the humans they own? How do you have a church like that? How could such a group continue to exist and serve the Lord?

Making an admittedly large leap of logic, I wonder if this passage has something to tell us about the different personalities we have in our youth groups. Maybe instead of slaves and masters, we have jocks and band geeks. Maybe we have the group of kids that loves to play the wild and crazy games like dodgeball, and the group of kids that would rather spend that time with scrabble. We have both sets of people sitting in the pews listening to what we have to say, and both groups need to be fed.

How do we feed both groups? How do we make sure that every person in the room is able to connect with the life-altering message of Jesus Christ? I don't know if I have all the answers, but it's something I'm going to continue to struggle with.

More later today, this post got finished late!