The Biblical examples of the Slave-of-God
The slaves of God in Scripture did not act because they “felt” like it or because they had the “heart” for it. Instead they acted simply because God commanded it. In deed in most cases, if they had followed their hearts, they would not have acted at all.
Slaves-of-God are not asked if they would like to “help” God out. Slaves-of-God are not offered choices. They are not always given ministry tasks that fit their spiritual gifts or their heart story. Slaves-of-God are simply told to do something, and they are not always told why.
Moses – Exodus 1:1-4:20
Moses was raised as the Son of the daughter of Pharaoh. At forty years old, he had the best education and the best connections that money could buy in one of the greatest empires of the time. It all came crashing down when Moses got angry and killed a man. Moses fled to the Arabian Desert and hid out for years as a sheepherder. But then one day, when Moses was 80 years old, God called him to the one of greatest ministries in all of human history. Moses said no.
Moses did not want to go. Moses gave God five excuses as to why he did not want to go back to Egypt and lead the Hebrews out of bondage:
1 – Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of the Egypt?
God answered that it doesn’t matter who you are, Moses, I will be with you.
2 – But who are you, God?
God answered, I AM WHO I AM.
3 – But the people will not listen to me or follow me.
God answered that he would give Moses miraculous signs to show that Moses was acting on God’s behalf.
4 – But I am not a good speaker.
God answered that he would tell Moses what to say.
5 – Having run out of excuses, Moses said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
At that, God’s anger was kindled against Moses.
Even so, Moses did as he was told and went back to Egypt. And of course, over the next forty years God used Moses to free the Hebrews from bondage, defeat the Egyptian Army, do miraculous signs and wonders, give the Ten Commandments, and establish the Nation of Israel.
Philip – Acts 8:26-40
Philip was chosen by the Apostles to wait on tables and take care of widows. After Stephen, the first martyr was stoned to death, the early church was scattered, and Philip went to north of Jerusalem to the nation of Samaria to proclaim Christ. Then one day the angel of the Lord told Philip to go back south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to the City of Gaza, a place in the desert. And that was it; no other explanation was given. Later as Philip is standing beside the road in the desert, the Holy Spirit tells Philip to go up along side of a chariot that is traveling down the road. Again, no explanation was given. Philip did as he was told.
The result of Philip’s obedience was that he led a court official from the Queen of Ethiopia to salvation.
Ananias – Acts 9:10-19
Ananias was a disciple of Jesus, a learner, in the City of Damascus. Then one day he graduated to slave. On that day he had a vision from God, and the Lord told Ananias to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street because a man from the City of Tarsus named Saul was praying, and this man Saul had a vision in which Ananias would come lay hands on him so that he would regain his sight.
But Ananias was apprehensive and told the Lord that he had heard of this man Saul and how much evil Saul had done persecuting believers in Jerusalem (including participation in the martyrdom of Stephen) and how he had also heard that the Chief Priests had given Saul authority to take captive all believers he found in Damascus. Lord dismissed all of these concerns with the simple command, go and do it. Ananias obeyed, and he went to the house of Judas on Straight and laid hands on Saul, restoring his sight.
The result of Ananias obedience was that Saul became Paul the greatest missionary of the early church and the writer of much of the New Testament.
Peter – Acts 10
We have to love the Apostle Peter. He was always quick to speak and quick to act, and sometimes he got it wrong, but he preserved, and in the end the Lord Jesus always helped him to get it right. In Acts Chapter 2, the Holy Spirit had come upon the believers on the Day of Pentecost. Peter now filled with the Holy Spirit is doing a good job as one of the church leaders. But then the Lord calls Peter out of his comfort zone.
Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, a Gentile, has a vision from an angel of God to find a man named Simon Peter. Meanwhile Peter has a vision that he should eat unclean food, food that was forbidden under the Law of Moses. Peter has this vision three times in row, which means that it is a serious vision from God. Each time in the vision the Lord tells Peter to eat, and each time Peter protests that the animals are unclean, and each time the Lord tells Peter that what the Lord makes clean is clean. Peter awakes and the men from Cornelius have arrived to fetch Peter. To make a long story short, the immediate problem for Peter is that for a good Jew to go to the house of a Gentile, to eat with a Gentile, and to stay overnight with the Gentile was to make the Jew unclean under the Law of Moses. But because of his vision, Peter understands God is telling him that he cannot call these Gentiles unclean. So Peter goes with the men of Cornelius.
The result of Peter’s obedience was to lead the first Gentile believers to salvation in Christ and to open the Church to include all peoples of the world not just the Jews and Samaritans (half-Jews).
Paul – Acts
Saul before he was Paul was a Pharisee, a religious Jew. He was a rising star in Judaism at the time. In his zeal to be a religious Jew, he persecuted the early Christians. However, on the road to the City of Damascus, Saul has an encounter with the Risen Christ. He is blinded for three days. As the Lord explains it to Ananias, Saul, soon to be Paul, “is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” See Acts 9:15-16. And suffer, Paul does.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul tells the Corinthians that during his ministry he suffered: several imprisonments; countless beatings often near death; received 40 lashes with the whip no less than five times; shipwrecked three times and adrift at sea; dangers from: rivers, robbers, his own countrymen, foreigners, and false brothers; sleepless nights; cold; hunger and thirst; and the daily pressures of his concern and anxiety for the churches that he planted. We also know that Paul had a physical ailment, referred to as a “thorn in the flesh,” to keep him humble. See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
In spite of all of this incredible suffering, Paul was obedient to the Lord’s call that he should take the Gospel to the Gentiles, Kings, and his own Countrymen. As a result, much of the New Testament was written by Paul or about his journeys.
Being a Slave-of-Christ surely means being called to serve outside of our comfort zone, like Philip and Peter. Sometimes the call to service puts us in vulnerable positions, even physical danger, like Ananias and Paul. Sometimes our service can be rewarding as Peter experienced the Lord bringing Gentiles into salvation. Other times, service can be extremely difficult and frustrating as Moses leading the rebellious Hebrews though the desert for forty years. And in still other situations, we are called to act like Philip but not given a lot of information why. Our Lord Jesus gives us the ultimate example of obedient service when he set aside the prerequisites of the God-head and took on the form of a human becoming obedient even to death in order to ransom us from the penalty of sin. See Philippians 2:5-11. And yes, some like Peter and Paul are called to follow the example of Jesus, being martyred for their obedience to the faith.