Sunday, October 25, 2009

Preaching to slaves (Eph. 6)

During the 19th century, the Methodists perfected the art of "camp meetings." Thousands of people would gather to sing, pray, and listen to preaching. Mass hysteria occasionally gripped the crowd, and some susceptible souls would even go into convulsions. Some ladies would "jerk" so  intensely that the ends of their long braids would crack like whips. 

Yet people would also testify to a sense of release from their sins, from degrading habits and addictions. 

Now, what do you preach when some of the slaveowners bring their slaves along? This was not at all unusual. Many churches built during that era had seperate seating accomodations for the slaves, in balconies in the rear of the meeting room. Well, one noteworthy evangelist used the following text, to explain, first of all, the duties of slaves:

    Eph 6:5 Ey köleler, dünyadaki efendilerinizin sözünü Mesih'in sözünü dinler gibi saygı ve korkuyla, saf yürekle dinleyin. 
    Eph 6:6 Bunu, yalnız insanları hoşnut etmek isteyenler gibi göze hoş görünmek için yapmayın. Mesih'in kulları olarak Tanrı'nın isteğini candan yerine getirin. 
    Eph 6:7 İnsanlara değil, Rab'be hizmet eder gibi gönülden hizmet edin. 
    Eph 6:8 Çünkü ister köle ister özgür olsun, herkesin yaptığı her iyiliğin karşılığını Rab'den alacağını biliyorsunuz. 

Then, once he had the crowd nodding in agreement, he'd preach even more forcefully on the duties of slave owners:

    Eph 6:9 Ey efendiler, siz de kölelerinize aynı biçimde davranın. Artık onları tehdit etmeyin. Onların da sizin de Efendiniz'in göklerde olduğunu ve insanlar arasında ayrım yapmadığını biliyorsunuz. 
Ultimately, our work has significance because it is a means of worshipping God by serving our neighbor. Communist societies, founded on a denial of God, found it impossible to motivate the workers to do more than the bare minimum. A Russian saying went, "They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work." Without the excellencies of a transcendent God as a standard of comparison, folks "worked to the contract," made a show of doing their duties, but in a slip-shod, half-hearted way. During a two-week visit to Ukraine, I saw a nation full of mediocrity. Charming people, and I hope I can work among them some day, maybe teach for a summer now and then. But, if you have no ethic of what Soltzenitsn referred to as "quality, the soul of technology," you end up with Chernobyl. 

Reality tends to assert itself over ideology.

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