“I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions.”
It seems like iTunes updates their software every other month. I power up my MacBook, get ready to listen to some music, and then, BAM! “A software update is ready to be installed.” And of course, every time you update iTunes you also have to agree to their terms and conditions. It’s a 56-page document that I’ve never read, yet I click yes “I have read and agreed.” It’s a contract to which I’m now bound.
Contracts are boring. Who wants to read them? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The book of Leviticus in the Bible is God’s contract with Israel. It’s the fine print. It’s a 27-chapter document in which God promises Israel, “I will live among you, I will be your God, and you will be my people as long as you follow my terms and conditions.” Leviticus is a list of does and don’ts. “Don’t weave your clothes from two types of material. Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head. Do remove the kidneys from your sacrificial animals, and burn the fat of the inner parts.” Mmm, beefy.
Leviticus, like any other contract, is boring.
Parts of it are, anyways. Some parts are interesting to me, like chapter 25 where it describes the Year of Jubilee. Every fifty years, the Israelites hit a giant economic reset button. Outstanding debts were forgiven, and slaves were set free.
It’s at this point that Leviticus prescribes how Israelites ought to treat their fellow countrymen who have become too poor to support themselves, and thus sold themselves into slavery. “Do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.”
An Israelite could never belong to someone as their possession, because they already belonged to Someone else. One of God’s terms in Leviticus 25:55 was, “For the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” An Israelite couldn’t even sell himself into slavery because he was not his own to sell.
Israel was bought by God out of slavery in Egypt at a price, and now they were his special possession, his servants. No one could ever rule ruthlessly over them, or treat them as their possessions or their slaves. They were God’s servants, and they did his work. Those were the terms and conditions of his contract.
Many of the New Testament writers chose to identify themselves as servants of God as well. Paul, Timothy, Peter, and James all introduced themselves as “servants of Jesus Christ.” It makes sense, because Jesus came to be a servant (Matt. 20:28, John 13:3-16, Phil. 2:7), and, as it says in 1 John 2:5-6, anyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus Christ (or a Christian), must live as Jesus lived. Jesus lived as a servant, and so Christians must too.
But what does it mean to be a servant of God?
It’s similar to Israel’s experience in Egypt. As Israel was a slave in Egypt, we were slaves to sin (Gal. 4:3), abused under a ruthless master. But Jesus bought us out of slavery at a cost (Gal. 4:4-5). Jesus read, agreed to, and kept the terms and conditions of God’s old boring contract. He paid with his life the penalty we incurred by breaking the contract. By faith in Jesus, we sign a new contract with God. Since God bought us at a price, we sign our life over to him. We become his possession, his property, his servant. But God doesn’t rule ruthlessly over us as a slave-master. We weren’t bought as hired workers, as the Israelites were, but as full-fledged sons, and daughters who have been given the same privileges as sons (Gal. 4:5-7).
So, what does it mean to be a servant of God?
It means to know that we are not our own. We were bought at a price, and we belong to God. He is our master, our dad in Jesus Christ, adopted into his family. We don’t work for ourselves or anyone else. We’re enabled by the Holy Spirit through faith to do his work.
That’s what it means to be a servant of God, a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian.
Those are the terms and conditions. We click, “Yes” when we place our faith and trust in Jesus.