Watchword for the Month

Text: 1 Cor.7v23


Bishop Joemath - Feb 2020

“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (NIV)

“God paid a high price for you, so do not be enslaved by the world.” (NLT)

Dear reader/listener, I am Augustine Joemath, serving at Moravian Hill in the historic District 6 in the CBD of Cape Town and Bishop of the Unity. We find ourselves into the second month of this no longer new year. May you be a blessing wherever the Lord may need you. The history of our country is embedded in the slave trade history of our world. Many of us have a slave ancestry as part of our dark past. We do to want to talk about it, but it is there. The riches of parts of our country is built on the blood, sweat and tears of our slave ancestry. We can be proud of them. Slaves were bought at a price to become slaves of men. Our biblical history knows the ills of the slave history.

But the word ‘slave’ or being ‘enslaved’ points us to another sad phase in the lives of many men and women of our world today. You may be aware of the efforts by a South African community to drive out the culprits who make a life and income out of enslaving people in the dark world of drugs and addiction. Many young and old men and women have fallen victim to this form of slavery. Lives and families are destroyed by this terrible scourge growing in many parts of our world and communities around us. The warning to ‘not become slaves’ or ‘not to be enslaved’ are not heard anymore and have made way for deeper and deeper enslavement by the drug cartels and dealers enriching themselves. Precious lives have been destroyed and the tears of loved ones seem to be unable to stop the slide into the abyss.

These ill-fated slave stories in most cases follow the path of young people who resist being ‘slaves’ of the love of their parent(s) or guardian(s), yet when they give in to the drug(s), they become slaves of men and women with corrupt motives. I can see and hear the anger and tears of many a mother or father who are unable to stem the flow of destruction of the precious lives they loved from birth. We will pray to God for guidance and restoration in such situations known and unknown to us.

But in thinking further around this text, I also became aware of another form of slavery yoking many of us. Life is so valuable and beautiful. You were so beautifully created. I was reminded of a song
sung by our children of which some of the text reads as follows: “Jesus loves the little children, all the
children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…”.

So, I asked myself: How valuable do you judge yourself? Slaves were valued and priced according to the value placed on them by their masters. I suppose there were many ways of doing that: how strong the slave was; what skills the slave had; how beautiful the slave looked; how productive the slave could be…etc. Some of us rate ourselves much higher than others or should I rather say, think more of ourselves than of others. And as such we live too, looking down on others because we see ourselves being of higher value than others. Yes, you know about that. In our SA context we now
have these race-card stories reminding us of the dark days of apartheid. It is so easy to fall into these traps of thinking more of yourself than of others based on factors such as skin colour, hair, social stand, family history, qualifications and all the rest. Yet, we were all created equal before God.

And so, my next level of thinking around this text is about my position before God. If I must change the verse slightly one can put the little word “all” or even “same” in there. There is no individual price tag in this text but rather the collective “you were all bought at the same price”. God had only one price tag on the lives of all of us: He gave his Son, called Jesus, so that we all may be saved. Yes, for God so loved the world, loved us, that He gave his one and only Son… Whatever you think of

yourself or thought of yourself has no value before God. You are not worth more than anyone who puts him or herself higher on any social or educational or economic or whatever stand. The rich man had to realise this when he looked at the position of Lazarus. The price that God put on your or my life was the blood of his Son Jesus. Let’s say it again to ourselves: He died so that we all may be saved.

Now we may ask: Who do we belong to? Whose child, are you? Who has the one and only claim on your life?

Paul repeats what he said in a previous verse (6v20): believers need to remember that we belong to Christ, since he paid for their lives with his blood. That blood redeemed/saved both bodies and souls, and now they must glorify God with their bodies. Paul is here not referring to physical slavery, but to giving in to social and religious pressures. Christ has bought us, and He is our Master. We are responsible only to Him. I can and should say NO to other pressures wanting to claim my life and my allegiance and say YES only to Him. Do not let anything physical of whatever form or anyone control your life but Christ. Can you do that? Are you doing it? Tell one another about it.

Dear Lord, I belong to you and you alone. Lord, help me to remember this and may your Spirit guide me in my walk through life to stay faithful to you only. Amen.