Romans 1:1 “Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ … ”
Observation: In the first verse of Romans, Paul called himself a bond-servant of Jesus. The whole sentence continues for seven full verses, during which Paul managed to recount a defense of the Gospel from the Old Testament, identify the Son of God and His lineage, present the Gospel, and tell how it ought to impact our lives today. Because his words seem always to have been carefully chosen, I was struck by his use of the phrase “bond-servant” to identify himself in relation to Christ. This term is particularly appropriate because it contains the essential elements of the Christian life, speaking of one who has given up his personal rights in order to be voluntarily bound to another. No sense of duty-bound slavery here, but an intentional attaching of the mind, will, and emotions to the life of Christ.
Application: Paul had willingly chosen to be bound to Christ, and in this, he calls me to be like him. I can never live the Christian life on my own. I strain at the load, all the while thinking and hoping that I can. But I can’t. When Christ said, “Not My will but Yours be done,” He was binding Himself afresh to His Father. In such binding is unsurpassed protection; I am no longer to be an unruly, undisciplined sheep meandering unintentionally after the shepherd, easily picked off by crouching predators. No, I am to be irrevocably bound to Christ as He is to me. There is within the phrase a suggestion of something more powerful than even the best superglue. Eternal security. Everlasting permanence. That’s the picture of identification Paul conjures in this simple bond-servant phrase.
I can apply this concept to my prayer life. As I am cast to and fro by life’s storms, I petition the Lord to bind me more firmly to Him. He is, after all, my rock and shelter. In the midst of gravest trials, I must petition God to draw me to Him so I could never be lost. Imagine the fisherman whose boat in good weather was tethered too loosely to the pier; when strong winds arise, the boat is in danger of being destroyed as it is repeatedly thrown against nearby rocks or the pier itself. The wise seaman will secure the boat so it becomes as one with the pier. Matthew 21:44 warns clearly: I can voluntarily choose to fall upon the rock and be broken to pieces, or I shall be crushed by the rock as it falls upon me. I cannot imagine a better thing than to be bound tightly to Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I see again that You never call me to something You have not first modeled. Your absolute commitment to doing the will of the Father is a picture of what You expect of me. Bind me to You, Lord; I choose this day to be your bond-servant.