The Faith Of A Slave - The Faith Of A Child
June 11, 2006 Joint Service For Children's Day
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. Today will be a combined service with the children from church school who usually have a separate worship service of their own. In this service I would like to give a speech especially for the church school children. So, all of you church school [guys and gals], please listen carefully, okay? Of course, since God is speaking to everybody who is present here, may the adults please listen attentively to God's message for them as well.
Slave Like Believers
2. With that, today on purpose I would like to read to you again from the words of the Bible which I hope for you to remember. It is [from] The Epistle To The Roman Disciples, chapter eight and verse fifteen. "You have not received a spirit to fall into fear again making you slaves, but have received the spirit that makes you children of God. By this spirit, we cry 'Abba, father!'," (verse fifteen).
3. The word "slave" appears in the word of God I just now read to you. Also, the phrase "children of God" appears in it. Being a slave and being a child are being compared together. "God has not made you like slaves. He has made you children of God!," says Paul.
4. About the time this letter was written, there were a lot of people who used to be called slaves. Slaves obey their masters. Why do [they obey]? Because they will be beaten if they don't listen to what [their master] says. Having pain is worse. Therefore, they obey their master. Always nervous about when they will be beaten, they listen to what they are told and work with all their might. This is the master-to-slave relationship.
5. Thus, [we] have [the example of] the relationship between humankind and God being like the relationship between slave and master. When [people] don't listen to what God says, [they] will be beaten. [They] will be given punishment. [They] will be cursed by God. [They] will meet catastrophe. Nor will [they] be let into the kingdom of God. That's why [they] follow God's orders. Always nervous about when God will be offended, [they] obey him. -- If that's the way it is, that's a master-to-slave relationship.
6. If [one's] relationship with God is like that of slave and master, on the exterior [the person] will perhaps seem to be a quite diligent, devout, and respectable believer. -- Because [he or she] is obeying God with all one's might. But, something has been going here that is just a bit disturbing.
7. First, if [one's] relationship with God is one like that of slave and master, [a person] couldn't love God. Typically anybody who's a slave doesn't love [his or her] master. Even though they might be serving with all their might and in a diligent manner, it is not because they love [their] master. Anyone always afraid of getting a beating will never be able to love [his or her] master. When it comes to God, the same thing goes on, too.
8. Then second, if a relationship with God is like slave and master, disturbingly then, [a person] will not be able to love other people either. Diligently working slaves hope that the non diligently working slaves get beaten by [their] masters. In the same way as that, those who think they are working with all their might for God will be irritated by those who are not working with all their might. They will get ticked off. Those who fear God and serve busting it even though it's really unpleasant do not approve of those who do not fear God and could care less. They hope for people like that to be cursed. They hope for catastrophe to fall upon [them]. Instead of God, they get to wanting to hand down judgment upon [others].
9. Furthermore, those who look at others like that get very irritated when they themselves are looked at in such a way. They don't want to be looked at as negligent slaves. Therefore, they start to pretend to be obedient. In form only they keep the word of God with all their might. [But,] what's [really] going on is that they are not obeying God from the heart. In this way then they are far removed from loving God and loving others.
Your Heavenly Father
10. While these kind of folks, so devout and respectable at the exterior level did exist, yet we hear that there were many slave like believers at the time of Jesus. All of them had kept God's commandments with all their might. Afraid of God's judgment, and afraid of other people's judgment.
11. But, Jesus who was revealed amidst them, was very different from these slave like people. There is a reason. He felt at ease. He wasn't nervous over being afraid of God's judgment or being afraid of other people's views about him. Far from that, he lived speaking directly to God in an exceptionally intimate manner. With respect to God he used to address him in this fashion, "Abba, father!" "Abba" means the same thing a small child says with "Papa, daddy." It is a title when calling your father. The image [of a person] calling out to God with "daddy" is hardly that of a slave. [It is that of} a child of God since [the person] is saying "daddy."
12. Before long a lot of folks started to gather around Jesus. Whereupon, Jesus taught them this prayer, "Our father, who art in heaven! Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Everybody knows it well, it is The Lord's Prayer. Jesus taught us, "Pray, 'Our father.'!!!" [We] say, "please feed us, dad!"
13. After that Jesus taught on prayer as follows. "Ask. By asking, it will be given [to you]. Seek. By seeking, you will find. Knock on the door. By knocking, it will be opened [to you]. Anyone who asks receives, anyone who seeks finds, to whomever knocks on the door it will be opened. Who among you will give your child in want of bread a stone? Though [your child] wants a fish, will you give [him or her] a serpent? In this way then, even though you are evil, you know how to give good things to your children. Even more so, your heavenly father must give good things to those who ask," (Matthew 7:7-11).
14. When some of the people who were there first heard Jesus' words of "your heavenly father" they must have been surprised. They were quite startled, "[You] said, your heavenly father, perhaps [you mean] God? Should you be talking like that?" Yet, they truly must have been happy. There were a lot of sick persons around Jesus. There were also a a lot of folks who had meet up with unjust things and some who had hard feelings. These people must have thought like this all the time, saying, "Because I haven't been obedient to the word of God I must have gotten sick. Because I have not kept God's commandments, I must have been punished." If they were slaves, it might be true. When you expect to be beaten, it will come to that because you haven't worked hard.
15. But, Jesus spoke of "your heavenly father" to these folks. You have become sick not because you've been beaten down by God the master over slaves because you did not work hard. In the first place, you're not a slave. You're a child of God. You should call [God] "my father." That's what we've been taught. All the people who were there, since birth, knew that they could call God father. And they knew that they should seek in prayer from the heavenly father for anything, with peace, talking about painful things or sad things, anything.
Being Made Into An Adopted Child
16. Well, that's the way Jesus has taught us how to live as God's children, [though] we somehow think of God as the master over slaves. Still, we end up brooding, "How can I call God 'father'?"
17. Jesus certainly did teach, "Pray, 'Our father who art in heaven.'" That is a happy [thing for us to do]. But it does not seem appropriate and right to us at all. What do you all feel about it? Do you think it's right to call God "our father?" Jesus prayed, saying "My father." I feel like that's understandable. Jesus appeared as the son of God in every way. But, how about us? We, so sinful, do not look like sons of God any way you look at us. When I look at myself, I feel like I correspond to this slave, who will never receive a reward in spite of having served with all my might.
18. That's the truth, it really is. Whenever we call God "our father," it isn't right for us to do. To live as God's child is not a right we deserve.
19. At the beginning I read God's word. I will read it again. "You have not received a spirit to fall into fear again making you slaves, but have received the spirit that makes you children of God. By this spirit, we cry 'Abba, father!'" Thus, Paul says that we received the spirit that makes us children of God and God has made us children of God. We might have the word "children of God" here in the text, but the actual word used is "adopted child." The scripture says "we have received the spirit that makes us adopted children." In other words, whenever we call God "Abba, father!," it says that it is not an automatic right, but we've been received as adopted children. It means it's God's special grace. It means God has accepted us in a special way as his children.
20. So, how did God accept us and make us his adopted children? -- It is through the cross of Jesus. It is through the time Jesus was crucified for our sins. Because Jesus bore all of our sins, we can become children of God and have peace. We can call God "Abba, my father!"
21. Since we are forgiven of our sin and have been received as God's children, we no longer need to be afraid that we will be beaten like a slave or to live nervously. Nor do we need to serve with all our might because we fear punishment. On the contrary, now we feel at ease as God's children, and as we pray and call out to God with "Abba, my father," [we should] give thanks for the fact that we've been made his children and we should serve with a love that loves our heavenly father. That's exactly what God has willed. "You have not received a spirit to fall into fear again making you slaves, but have received the spirit that makes you children of God. By this spirit, we cry 'Abba, father!'"