The Slave/Master Paradigm Within The Church
Excerpted from my book, Leaving and Finding Jesus
Maybe the most significant issues in the church today stem from Christian servants who don’t know friendship. I think much of the Deconstruction movement has been birthed in institutions led by Older Brothers who slave down the road of lack.
Many of our leaders are wholly invested in the paradigm of slaves and masters; they approach obedience as a transactional obligation and thus live and preach a hierarchal, controlling, and punishing Father/Master message. Just like the Older Brother, they are convinced they know the heart and motivations of our Father, the thoughts and plans of the Master. But as Jesus told us, “…a servant doesn’t know what his master is thinking or planning,” He only tells that stuff to His friends— “for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.” (1)
Sadly, much of the church is full of behavior-focused, sin-counting, Older Brothers—slaving servants waxing eloquent on the master’s thoughts and plans while participating in dualism, nationalism, liberalism, moralism, wokeism, and a thousand other obligations outside of friendship.
Sadly, the world has been inundated with slaving Older Brother Christians—diligent servants, calling the master, “dad,” while preaching a punishing message that conflicts with His heart of reconciliation for all our brothers and sisters—slaving servants who interpret Scripture outside of friendship and present the gospel outside of Greater Love.
Dear friends, let’s stop participating in the hierarchal paradigm of masters and slaves; let’s stop giving ear to slaving Older Brothers who don’t know what our Father “is thinking and planning.” That way lies striving, disillusionment, trauma, and broken trust.
How can we recognize when we are participating in the Slave-Master paradigm? Here are five earmarks:
- Our interpretation of Love isn’t cruciform—self-giving, other-centered.
- We leverage Scripture to measure some vast separation between God and humanity.
- We justify cruelty in the name of righteousness and holiness.
- We participate in, and propagate, hierarchy and exclusion in the name of love.
- We perceive and present punishment as justice.
And we can identify slaving Older Brother leaders using the same criteria.
If we want to know our Father’s heart, it can best be discovered on the Emmaus Road with friends as we humbly steward the burning. Jesus’ disciple, John, revealed the measureless depth of this burning heart friendship when, in his gospel, he referenced himself three times as “the one Jesus loved.”(2)
We are all “the one Jesus loves.” That’s how Greater Love works.
The fact is, Jesus calls every one of us “friend”—we are all the one He loves. And the more we surrender to this Greater Love friendship, the more we awaken to our Father’s reconciling heart. In this heart-to-heart connection, serving comes naturally, and obedience is a fruit rather than an obligation.
In friendship, we discover the high-water mark of Christian faith is measureless reconciling love. In friendship, our lives become surrendered expressions of Greater Love, and that’s the definition of Christian maturity.
Servant friends are people moving closer to reconciliation with each step they take. Christian maturity is developed as we revel in our friendship with Jesus.
1 John 15:15 NIV & MSG
2 John 13:23