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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Identity

Up until last week I was studying Romans with three different groups, this week it is down to two.  Early this morning it was Romans 4 at the Savoy – if you are ever in Tulsa you must eat breakfast at the Savoy, get there around 7 so they will have the cinnamon rolls done…I digress – Thirty minutes later I was in Romans 1 on Skype with my Moroccan pastor friend.  Then about an hour later I was discussing what we saw in Romans 1 with another friend who works with a Christian ministry at Duke…

There are several things that stood out, one was the consistency of the themes throughout the book, but I want to focus your attention on Romans 1:1.  Look at how Paul describes himself, and the order in which he describes himself.  First a bond slave of Christ; second, called as an apostle…  This is the first time Paul refers to himself as a bond slave of Christ.  The only other time is in Titus.  It is instructive to look at how Paul introduces himself in the letters leading up to Romans.  The chart below is a chronological listing of Paul’s work.
How does Paul's greetings inform our identity?  Thoughts at DTTB.
In Galatians and the Corinthian epistles Paul immediately identifies himself as an apostle with various qualifiers.  Both of those churches had challenges which he was addressing.  In the greetings for the Thessalonian epistles he mentions those who are with him without reference to his office.

The order in Romans is significant.  Paul views himself first as a bond slave then as an apostle.  Most of us as men get some form of our identity out of what we do.  The typical introductory dance includes the question, “What do you do?”  No one has ever identified themselves to me as a bond slave.  We hold the role of apostle in high regard.  Paul in his ultimate theological treatise focuses first on his enslavement to Christ.  There is much more that can be said about this in relation to the other introductions, but I will leave that for now.

The take away for me is that my identity is not in what I do but whom I serve.  That is key, for I do not serve primarily those to whom I have had the privilege to equip, rather Christ.  While I want to know how they are receiving what I share, the real issue is whether or not I am serving Christ in what I do.

For us as dads, that is key.  When we are engaging with our kids we have to remember that we are doing that primarily as servants of Christ.  We measure effectiveness not by how our child responds but whether we were faithful to do what Christ commanded.

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