Sermon May 26, 2007 : Ephesians 5 - Slaves and Masters

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Date: May 26, 2007
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

The book of Ephesians, and as you know, my intention originally was to take those 3 categories of relationships: wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters; and look at that as a whole. But the Lord has lead us in a different way and we’ve been studying one group each and so we come to third group tonight, which is slaves obeying masters.

It’s a very sensitive topic, boy. You know, I really got into hot water. Personally, I’d love to go just right through it, passed it almost, because it is so sensitive and so difficult to really get the essence of what is here, particularly in the light of modern understanding of justice. It seems so scandalous in a way and sometimes counter cultural the way that scripture confronts this issue, that you really need to go deep into the ethos, if you will, of the Christian faith and the context in which that passage was written in order to really understand the full intent, the full meaning of what the Apostle Paul was writing about.

So, I hope to do that and maybe it is better that we just dedicate and focus on that passage in itself because I think it is a very complex, but potentially very illuminating also in terms of how does scripture, or how does the spirit in a sense I would say, not to sound grandiose, but how does the spirit conjugate history, historical processes, the nature of justice and injustice and rebellion and rebellion against injustice and so on and so forth. So, it’s potentially a very illuminating passage and I hope I can do at least minimum justice. So with that in mind, let’s read chapter 6 of Ephesians, let’s begin with verse 5, it says:

“Slaves obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their master and yours, is in heaven and there is no favoritism with him.”

Even beginning my exposition of it, let’s go to Colossians, this will part of it right there, because there’s another passage. Colossians is very much of a parallel book to Ephesians, by the way, many themes very similar, their development, the division of the books. Evidently the Apostle Paul was thinking of the very same issues and he was just simply packing them for different audiences, but there’s a lot of stuff that is very parallel, very similar. But, it’s interesting that some of the slight differences do give us more of an insight into the Apostle’s mind.

By the way, for the sake of economy, I’m going to speak of the Apostle Paul, but I’m speaking here of course of the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul. This is not a man, as such, speaking merely in the context of his historical époque that he was living in, bound merely by the horizon of his own time and the values of the his time, as we could easily say it to get out of the bind there. This is really, as we believe that the Bible is inspired by God even in the scandalous moments, this is the Holy Spirit speaking to us and we are not judging the spirit, we are not judging the intent of the word, it is judging us. We adjust to the word and we try to find the meaning of the word in a faithful sort of way, in a humble sort of way.

So, I say that just to understand when I say the Apostle Paul, I’m really speaking of the spirit of God through the Apostle Paul. I think it’s not a useless clarification because of the controversial, potentially controversial nature of this passage. Well, here in chapter 3, Colossians, verse 22 it says:

“Slaves obey your earthly masters in everything and do it not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord…”

Do you see the same thought as there was in Ephesians as well? You know, this idea that this act of obedience and of submission to an admittedly unjust system, blatantly unjust, obedience to it can only be understood in the Lord. So this idea of in reverence for the Lord or in the Lord and also you see that with children obeying their parents, wives obeying…. You know this idea, that’s something right there that begins to complicate our universe, that doing certain things in the Lord, in the spirit, in the light of eternity, in the light of the values of the Kingdom of God, is very different from the initial instincts that we have to rebel against that are unjust and things that drive us the wrong way.

I mean, many times we will be lead to do certain things or not do other things, not because we want to do it, not because we feel that it’s right or not, but because in the Lord, because of the Lord, because of the way the gospel calls us to do certain things, in obedience. Maybe our mind rebels against it, maybe our sense of justice rebels against it, but our faith, that God knows best, that God’s understanding goes beyond our human understanding, because he sees in the light of eternity, in the light of the spirit, in the light of the essence of our makeup, how he’s made us up, in the light of just the true nature of the human being and of societies, God sees the beginning from the end, from the center to the outside, and so in the Lord we can submit many times to things that otherwise we would not at all do.

So, he says: “…obey your earthly masters…”

There’s also this call to doing things not only when they’re watching, but also simply with sincerity of heart. And of course that’s a general principle, not only for the issue of slavery and service but also as we work, as we…. Governance. You understand how already, how daring, how revolutionary this text is.

Slaves had no rights. Slaves, according to even highly exalted Greek philosophers were nothing more than animated instruments. They had no humanity. They had absolutely no rights, just like children. This concept of patria potesta, the power of the power, which was an absolute main principle of Roman law, the father had absolute right over his children. The husbands had absolute rights over the wives. Masters had absolute right over slaves who had, really had been divested of their humanity.

You know, that was the key thing. People could enslave others by divesting them of their humanity. You know, the best that Americans could do in the 18th century was ascribe a 3/5th humanity to slaves, one slave was the equivalent of 3/5th of a person for purposes of counting population, and others were even more radical in denying humanity to the slaves. Because, you have to dehumanize somebody before you oppress them to a degree that slaves were oppressed. You had to divest them of the humanity. You have to turn them into something that is shear property.

Now, here the word the Apostle Paul is saying, the same master, the same owner, it is ascribing a quality, you know, this ontological equality of men and women, children and their parents, slaves and their masters. It’s saying, you cannot do that, you have to treat these people as what they truly are. They are property of the heavenly Father, of the heavenly King, they are human just as you are. You are under the same authority, therefore you have to treat them in a…. you know, the implication is with equality, but we’ll get a little bit more into that.

But understand how radical this idea was that parents should treat their children with care as well and not scandalize, not drive them to anger and rebelliousness and rather teach them in a systematic sort of way, with paideia, this idea of teach them in a long term, systematic, coherent way over many years, submit them to a system of teaching that is consistent, that has a vision, that has planning, that has coherence to it, rather than striking them for whatever you want. If you’re angry you treat them… if you want to exploit them, you do, whatever. No, treat your children with care and with attention, take good care of them.

Husbands, your wives, develop them and help them to come into the fullness of their being, because this is what Jesus is doing with the church as well. So, he’s using the same way of parsing relationships between wives and husbands, children and parents, he is using it also to bring masters into an understanding of how they should treat their slaves, and saying, if you don’t do that, the God who has ownership of them truly, and who is their Master and yours, and who therefore has the power to discipline you, to chastise you and to punish you, will do that. You will get your reward as well if you are not careful to treat them appropriately. There is no favoritism. That’s a radical thing, there is no favoritism with God. You are the same.

So, that’s an important element here, Christianity was bringing a totally new way of looking at human relationships. That was radical. So, you know, what I’m trying to do here by showing you these things is because these passages have been particularly in the 20 and 21st century cause of so much scandal and so much reproach really, on the part of individuals who have a different sense of justice. You know, in the 21st century we see justice in a very different way many times and how we should deal with injustice and so when people read a passage like this, “slaves obey your earthly masters with respect and fear”, particularly let’s say in America, how can you read that to an African American, or to Africans.

I was reading just this weak an article in the Smithsonian magazine about the first and the only, actually, slave trader who was put to death under laws that were ignored in the 19th century in America for 20, 40 years and finally with the advent of Lincoln into the presidency, they finally decided to put some teeth into the law and this particular guy, a slave captain, who was finally brought to justice as an example and that was just….. the civil war in America was just beginning then to erupt.

But it also goes into, when this guy was caught in the high seas coming from Africa bringing the slaves and there are illustrations of how slaves were put into ships and brought in that long trip of thousands of miles from Africa into the new world. Everything in you revolts as to how civilized Christian nations like England and America could perpetrate this kind of systemic dehumanization and destruction of human life, this absolute disregard for the dignity of human being and excuse it economically and in other ways and even using the Bible. It really shows you the levels of self delusion that mankind, even Christians, can bring themselves in order to justify their sinfulness and their cupidity, their just love for money and for property. You know, it is a stain upon the history of this nation forever. It will be there forever and I understand the horror and the indignation that many people who have been the object of injustice feel when they read passages like this.

If you’re a Latin American who was been under dictatorship for years, and who have seen the injustices that are perpetrated in Latin America, I was very young when Trujillo was assassinated in my country, the Dominican Republic, and in my small, my infantile mind I do remember the anxiety of the home, the feelings are there. I don’t have the exact memories but you know, when we read passages like Romans, chapter 13 speaking about respecting authority and so on, you know, there’s a lot in the modern psyche that rebels against this call, so you have to take time to sort of provide an apologetics, not an apology, but an apologetics of the scripture and how the scripture can call Christians to be respectful of authority and a passage like “slaves obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and sincerity of heart just as you would obey Christ…” everything in the modern sensibility rebels against that.

We have to understand it in the light of the 18th century, all the rebellions beginning let’s say with 1789 with the French, or even before that in Heidi the first republic in the new world that rebelled against his masters and on all the revolutions in Latin America and in Europe and so on and so forth, and now the ethnic divisions and the different ethnic groups rebelling. You know, the 20, 21st century is a time of huge rebellion against injustice and against oppressors and so on and so forth.

When you read something like this it just shows you the scandalous nature of the gospel many times, and the initial impression is, ok, let’s get out of here. You know, that had to be written by a man who was writing in the light of his time, it couldn’t be the Holy Spirit here, but that’s why it’s important for us to take time. When we come to these passages, we have to say, no, I have to assume that this is correct. Now, how can I understand this in the light of the good God that I know, the all knowing God that I know, the just loving God that I know without doing violence to the meaning of the passage, as so many people would like to do, and just kind of bring that passage down to a human level and let’s do away with it and let’s find other passages that are more sublime and less complicated and we can ascribe divinity to those but not to these. We cannot do that.

And I think there’s a lot here that in understanding what is meant can teach us how to deal with other potentially scandalous passages in scripture. I’ve been trying to get some hold on this. I think one of the things that we need to understand here in this attempt at an apologetic, is the historical context of Christianity when Paul writes.

Christianity is the young religion, I mean, it’s just barely beginning to get its text together and its theology together and Paul is writing to a persecuted minority in a nation that sees Christianity with huge suspicion. Christians refuse to ascribe divinity to Caesar, they do not worship Caesar. They say, we only worship God. So, already they are suspects before the authorities, they’re not team players in the culture, they don’t worship the gods, they don’t keep the holidays that other pagans keep, they are counter cultural and so all of a sudden there’s this desire that you see in scripture time and time again to show that Christianity is not a seditious, rebellious religion seeking to topple authority, but that is simply trying to remain true to its understanding that God is supreme, but that human beings have to put it in the proper place, worship is not be given to human beings, but we’re not about toppling the system, we’re not about rebellion, revolution and so on and so forth. On the contrary, Christians want to show that they’re respectful citizens that they respect the laws, that they’re not there to create trouble.

So many times you see that, in the context of a religion that is trying to find its place, to sort of justify themselves, to recommend themselves for consideration to people, to apologize for the fact in a sense that we don’t do many things that you guys do and you’re thinking about us as party poopers all the time, and holier than dough. No, we are team players as well. So, you know, that idea of showing that Christians are respectful of the law, that they’re not rabid revolutionaries, that they’re not knee jerk liberals trying to change everything around, in one shot, and trying to present by their example to bring others, win over others into the kingdom, so that Christianity can continue to spread and become more influential in society. I think that idea dominates many things that the Apostle Paul says, or Peter as well.

You know, I was looking at the Apostle Peter when he speaks to wives, and he says, “wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words, by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

In other words, you know, if the Apostle Paul would have begun saying, women, now you are equal to men, and therefore you don’t have to obey your men, and do as you please because you’re equal before God and so on and so forth, that kind of thing would have created such a context of rebelliousness and resistance to the gospel that people would have not be able to even hear the gospel.

So, there’s an evangelistic emphasis here, and the emphasis is being put, let’s win people to the Lord, let’s allow Christianity to spread, let’s present Christianity as a winsome religion. And a I believe that in the long term Paul is being strategic here. There’s a lot that we see, you know, this strategic thinking. Let’s allow Christian values to really take hold of society. Let’s allow the values of the Kingdom of God to permeate society and those values will in a very systemic, fundamental, long term sort of way, tear apart the apparatus of slavery and injustice as a whole, as I think has happened over the centuries.

Unfortunately Christians have not exercised more integrity, I believe and we have allowed ourselves to be co-opted. The church has often been co-opted by the powers of the military and economics and government, that we have cooperated a lot. But I think if the church would have kept intact the values of the word of God and wherever the values of the word of God are lived fully and ingested fully, and obediently and submissively, that word breaks through injustice. When you read the writings of somebody like William Wilberforce or the Quakers in the 18th century, here in America, and all the people who fought for the freedom of slaves, and the emancipation of women, and children were exploited in the workplace and debtors prisons and so on and so forth, you see that when the Christian ethic, as it finds itself in the word of God was embraced truly, there was no place for slavery and injustice. And I think what Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit was saying, let’s get the word, let’s get the message, let’s allow Christianity to flow fully and to infuse itself into the fabric of the culture and that will bring about the toppling of the edifice of slavery.

And so, there is this evangelistic approach, I believe, that allows these passages to be understood so much better. I mean, we have to think also that the Christian outlook is not merely history bound. By the way, you guys are very quiet there, are you asleep or am I making…? I’m closing up, but I think this is important.

The Christian outlook is as history bound as the 20th century or the 21st century is. You know, when modern rationalism takes over through the Enlightenment, even before that in the Renaissance, more and more you see that as the mind and modern reasoning begins to take over more and more western culture, the spirit takes more and more of a back seat, and history, the here and now, time and space, of course become much more encumbering, they acquire much more body, much more weight. So that in the proportion that eternity recedes of course time and the now and history become much more important. And I think the essence of the modern in precisely this idea of we are history bound, we are time bound. Even within time, our understanding of time becomes a lot narrower, we’re no longer as bound by the thousands of years of accumulative human history. We’re more than modern, we can reinvent ourselves in the light of what we know in the 21st century, of the brain, of biology, of chemistry, of the human being, of the make up of the universe, and so on and so forth.

And Christianity sees differently. You know, God sees things in terms of eternity. God’s span of time is so much wider and we are so much more impatient to see injustices righted very quickly. And we are very willing to spill blood and to destroy civilizations even, and to undo the fabric of a whole culture just to write something, and sometimes I don’t think we are as able to say, is this the best way? You know, if a million people die in a war, in a civil war, but something is won, I mean, is that million lives really worth? I mean, is the change worth that million lives? Could another way have been found?

I think of communism and its fall. Communism imploded, it fell apart from the inside without lots of spilling of blood. I mean, it just happened and I wonder how much of that implosion of that inner dismantling of communism came through the prayers of God’s people, through the intelligent intervention of the church, as we people know that the Catholic church played a very important role in the fall of communism, in direct pressures that were put on the edifice of communism by other countries, in the taking away of the ethical pretensions of communism through people who wrote about it, like Solyenitzin and others through literature and so on. It was a systemic attack from all sides against communism and finally, bloodlessly that whole thing came down, came apart. It took 70 some years but I think it was better than a few million lives being lost through war confrontation that way.

You know, the processes of God are very different. God is willing to take more time perhaps for things to be destroyed, evil to be destroyed and I think if God’s people were more active in prayer and in using the moral voice of scripture and of the church of Jesus Christ, the prophetic, anointed voice of the church of Jesus Christ, to speak out against injustice, and to speak out the word of God with dignity and without falling prey to party alignments and pettiness of men who try to manipulate Christianity for their own purposes, and we maintain the prophetic detached, in a way, but also in passionately involved voice of Christianity in history a lot of things would happen in a very different way that don’t necessarily have to require the sword or the gun to resolve.

And I think all of these elements were playing in the mind of the Holy Spirit of God. you know, the Bible perspective is eternal, it is not history bound. Christianity, by the 4th century had taken over Rome and all the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire was handed to the Christian church after many martyrs. The martyrs were the sword of the church, the prayers of the people of God, the godly lives, the holiness of God’s people, the commitment of God’s people. They took that mighty empire and brought it to its feet. Of course, once we had it we didn’t know what to do with it and it corrupted us. That’s the problem.

You know, the problem is we do not know how to handle the power of the spirit many times, when we achieve the victories then we’re corrupted by the very victories that we achieve, by the blessings that come with it. But, you know, it took a while, but finally that whole thing came down when Constantine gave the church. I mean, the whole Roman Empire, but the church didn’t have the integrity to remain true to its values, to its counter cultural values and slowly the world began to wrap Christianity and to corrupt it completely. But we achieved the victory, without going into revolution.

Imagine what would have happened if Christians would have had the integrity to put into practice the values of the Kingdom of God once they had the power to do it. what things could have…. How different history might have been. Think of the Middle Ages and all the power that Christianity had, the church had during the Middle Ages, if only God’s representatives here on earth would have had the integrity and the obedience of the word of God to rule justly and to rule in a God fearing, Christ honoring way. God’s principles, the principles of the kingdom, the weapons of warfare of the kingdom, which are not carnal but powerful in God for the destruction of strongholds as Paul says, worked, we failed.

See, when God’s people are willing to use the instruments of the cross, for example, because this is one of the things that I see here, what allows Paul to speak about obey your masters and do it with gusto and not only when they’re looking at you but when they’re not looking at you. Be the best workers, be the best slaves possible. You know what he’s doing? I think he is using the most powerful weapon, the most revolutionary weapon, the most destructive, the most system tearing weapon that was ever devised: the cross, the power of the cross. God’s judo, I would call it, the taking power and turning it on its head and instead of resisting it, embrace it and absorb it and neutralize it in the Lord, in the power of the Lord. Isn’t that the essence of the cross?

I think that I would have to go to Romans, chapter 12 for a moment just to expand us a little bit. Here’s the Apostle Paul, by the way, before he starts talking about governing authorities and so on, interestingly, he says here:

“Bless those who persecute –12:14- bless and do not curse, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited, do not pay anyone evil for evil, slaves do not repay your masters evil for evil, be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody…”

Again, why? because that gives honor to the Christian faith and enables them to come.

“…. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave –here’s the key- but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, it is mine to revenge. I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him….”

Here’s the principle, obey your master’s enthusiastically instead of trying to cheat them. Destroy them by doing good and by working hard and bring the justice of God by doing the very opposite that the world requires.

“…. Feed him, if he’s thirsty give him some drink, in doing this you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil but, what?, but overcome evil with good.”

You know the essence of how Christianity wages warfare, the true Christian ethos is through the cross. The cross is not as Nietzsche would have pretended, that it’s the religion of a slave mentality, the cross is truly is the religion of the superman and the superwoman. First, because it requires super human energy to embrace the principle of the cross. It’s so much easier to strike against your enemy, so much harder in principle and in the spirit to withhold anger and wrath and let the justice be carried up by God.

But, if you look at the principle of the cross, how did Jesus effect his destruction, or his defeat of evil? The Bible says that in the cross Jesus defeated the principalities and powers, and he exhibited them publicly and he also annulled all the accusations that were against us, in the cross. Totally immobilized, totally impotent, apparently defeated, ingesting a death that he did not deserve, and a shame that he certainly did not merit. His divinity completely contradicted to the point that it was scandalous and that’s why the Jews were so much after not believing and the Greeks who were so much after coherence and reason, could not understand how a God could go through that kind of thing. And in that absolute contradiction of power and of efficiency and of sense, through that totally counter intuitive way of doing things, Jesus defeated the most powerful force in the universe, aside from God, the power of evil, through the cross. He defeated it.

And how do Christian defeat evil? By waging active good in the spirit by hurling good at evil, not by using the weapons of evil, which is warfare and violence, but by believing that if I believe in God and I get in touch with the power of the Holy Spirit and I wage the weapons of love and I do the very opposite, my enemy I’m going to feed him, I’m going to bless him and in doing that I will destroy him, but I will him in a different way than I would destroy him if I were Satan. You see, I would destroy what he represents, I would win a friend. It takes so much more to win a friend than to destroy and enemy. Make a friend of an enemy. That’s really super human as divine.

And, so the power of cross to change history. This is, I think, what was implicated in this. you know, slaves in the Lord understand what is happening here, be patient. God in his time will bring about a righting of the wrong. He will do it in a systemic sort of way, meanwhile allow time for Christianity to expand itself, to throw its feelers and its influence into the inner workings of the culture and in time all of that will just come apart. It will be destroyed.

I leave you with one last thing and I know that I’ve stayed too long already. Look at Philemon, if you have just a second here, and I see, why would the Holy Spirit include such a personal thing like this little chapter of Philemon? I think that there’s something there for us to see. You know, the way… this is the Holy Spirit by the way speaking to humanity and to society. This is God in a way, how he deals with humankind and with governments as a whole. Philemon is slave owner, Paul is his discipler and Philemon came to the Lord through Paul. Onesimus, his slave who had fled, left them, before he got to know the Lord and now has become a Christian and Paul is sending him back. Guau! Who would have done that? Well, Paul is sending him back. Look how the Holy Spirit deals with the governments and with human beings, this alone could be the subject of a sermon, and I thank the Lord that I’m not going to get into that, don’t worry, don’t be afraid. But, here’s the way, the Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul to this man, I think speaking also to humanity, to governments and to all kinds of things. In verse 12 of Philemon it says:

“I am sending him with my very heart back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me, so that he could take your place in helping you while I am in chains for the gospel.”

You know, the tenderness that Paul speaks about this slave, already you begin to see, how Christianity, as you read these things, as Christians read these things, if they ingest the meaning of it, what’s going to happen? You know, that hardness, that moral obtuseness that allows slavery will slowly be erased. He’s speaking in such tender terms.

“… But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced… “

This is the way God works with humanity. I was speaking to a father today who is not happy with the way his young adult children treat him and his wife, they’re believers. And I was saying, you could be telling them what they’re not doing right in the Bible the whole time and alienate them, or you could find the way that God deals with these adult children which is humanity. God himself limits his absolute power by dealing with human beings in a much more tender, much more protractile long terms way.

“….I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced….”

God could in a moment destroy iniquity and injustice and all kinds of things, but he doesn’t deal that way with humanity.

“…perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good, no longer as a slave….”

That’s the real intent of the Holy Spirit right from the very beginning when Christianity came in to that Roman world, with 60 million slaves. Immediately a conflict was established between the righteousness of God and the absolute injustice of slavery and I know that God was predisposed to destroy that immoral building.

“… no longer as a slave but better than a slave, as a dear brother…”

That’s revolutionary, that’s seditious, that’s scandalous in the light of the time.

“…He is very dear to me, but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord…”

I mean there’s a whole moral system implicated in those words. Just think about it.

“….so, if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me, I, Paul, I’m writing this with my own hand, I will pay it back, not to mention that you owe me your very self…”

Guau! I mean, I wish we had time to really deconstruct what is being said there, but his is the way the Holy Spirit was speaking to the culture as a whole and any believer, any Christian, anybody who considers himself Christian, came under the ages of Christianity would have to contend with that feeling, that love for a slave, that increased dignity that all of a sudden was ascribed to that human being who before had none.

So, again, these are very complex things. What I want you to understand, there’s no complicity here. And certainly there’s no superficiality, moral or ethical in the way this passage deals with slavery. On the contrary, there’s very, very deep, profound, encompassing, eternal perspective that we would do very well to explore and to come under. God is so much wiser, so much more righteous. We can never be more righteous than God.

Whenever we see any scandalous claims in scripture, just assume immediately, God is right and I simply have to find how he is right. Don’t question if he’s right or not, that’s not an option for a believer. Amen.

So, we have a loving God. We have a just God, never oppress any human being whether he is a worker, a wife, a husband, a child, a drunkard in the street, a homosexual, whatever. Children of God, made in the image of God, same as you, loved by God just as much as you. The imprint of God is in their life. Believers could never oppress a child of God.

I told the Jewish Consul here in Boston, he couldn’t understand why we’re celebrating a night to bless Israel and I told them, isn’t any Bible believing Christian, any genuine believer who has ingested the word of God and the values of the Kingdom of God could never kill a Jew, could never denigrate a Jew, could never persecute a Jew, would give his life for a Jew, would love a Jew. Anybody who did the opposite, they were imitators and they were impostors. They took falsely the name of Christ, much more so in every sense in Christianity the word of God has been ignored, it has been contradicted, it has been violated by Christians many times but when you read that word and you absorb its meaning, its justice, its righteousness, its goodness, its love, there is no place for killing, maiming, oppressing, exploiting, any other human being, whatever form they might take: humble or exalted it doesn’t matter. All children of God, God has no favoritism.

May we be a people of justice and a people of love, and a people of reverence for the human image, divine image also that is imprinted in each human being. So, Father we receive your word, your absolutely bottomless word, totally inexpressible, complex, you allow us to play with it, but Father we want to do it with reverence, and we know that we haven’t even touched surface of it. Thank you because you’re such a loving God. Forgive us, forgive your people, forgive your church, forgive me for many times we do not speak the truth out of fear of man, many times we play with the truth and we do all kinds of mind games, of void …..

We thank you for the beauty of your word, may your church learn how to wield this sword of your word to put down injustice and to live righteous lives. Thank you for the time that you have had us here tonight, Lord. We bless you, we glorify you and we give you all the honor and all the credit for whatever good has come out of this time. Thank you for allowing us to be before you in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.


Sermon delivered by Dr. Roberto Miranda taped May 26, 2007 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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