“You cannot use that word,” I was told. “Our company takes great pride in being diverse and inclusive.”
“Those are not my words,” I thought to myself. “Those are the words of Jesus Christ.”
I often write devotionals for the courses that I teach. In one recent devotional which was to be published, I used the words of Christ from Mark 10:44 where He said, “Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Apparently, the word “slave” is off limits, and my devotional cannot be published the way it is written. Interesting. Am I to change the words of Christ to make them acceptable to man? Am I to change the words of Christ to make them less offensive?
I wonder if the individual I was communicating with knows Whose words are being censored. Presumably, it is my use of the word “slave” that is being critiqued. However, in reality, to say that the use of the word “slave” is not appropriate is to say that the very words of Christ are not appropriate.
The world looks at slavery in a negative perspective, but there is no getting around what Jesus said. Christ said that if we wanted to be first, “we must be a slave” (Mark 10:44 NIV). The Greek word Christ used in Mark 10:44 is doulos which means “one who gives himself up to another’s will; those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.” Apparently, the idea of giving up oneself to another and being devoted to another person is offensive to some people!
I get the historical context of the word. Had I been alive throughout that tragic part of America’s history, I most certainly would have been an abolitionist. Life matters. People matter regardless of what they look like on the outside. When touring Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage home several years ago, I discovered that he justified his use of slaves using passages from the Bible. I was enraged! I absolutely hate it that anyone used Scripture to justify treating another human being the way slaves in American were treated.
But do you really discount Christ’s words because the sinful actions of man have attached some tragic history to a word? Do people realize that there has been more going on in this world than what happened in American in the past several hundred years? Do people realize that Christ used the word long before the slavery we think of today even became an issue? Do people realize He used the word on purpose?
When the world hears the word slavery, they think of years of treachery, abuse, and persecution. When I hear the word slavery, I try to think beyond the corruption of man. I think of selflessness. After all, this is what Christ said we must be. Being devoted to another in spite of my own personal interests is the epitome of selflessness. It is too bad that the world today is so narrow-minded that they feel the need to censor Christ. The world today could use a little selflessness.
If you would like to learn more about the word “slave” used in Scripture, here is a really great Biblically-based blog post about it: https://www.tms.edu/blog/slaves-of-christ/ Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we are all slaves to something (cf. John 8:34-36; Romans 6:4-6, 18). By the grace of God, I am a slave to Christ.
Censoring Jesus over a word He used on purpose…that’s just not something I’m quite comfortable with!