On a recent car trip with my wife we were listening to worship songs to stay awake as we were driving in the middle of the night. Some songs we joined in on in loud chorus and some were ones that you simply have to be quiet and just listen. One such song of the latter category is a song by Leonard Cohen called Show Me the Place. The song is sung slowly by what sounds like a very elderly man with a low grovelly voice so it automatically doesn’t lend to joining in. The song speaks of chains and loving (the Master) from the position of a slave.
I doubt most of us, including myself, view our relationship to the Father as Master and slave on a regular cognitive level. We use lots of phrases like Potter and clay, Brother, Savior, Abba Father, etc. All of those are correct pieces of the relationship puzzle that paints the picture of the divine tension that exist in understanding our relationship with God. That relationship is a wonderful balance between benevolent caregiver and Lord, with Lord meaning an owner who has authority and power over others.
While still unrepentant in our sins it was not we who possessed the key to our freedom from sin and the chains that bound us – it was Jesus. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross gave Him total control of the keys that were once held by Satan to lock us up in the torment of sin and separation from God. But a very interesting thing happened when we accepted the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. The chains did not go away! But ownership of the key was transferred to me and you. We are still subject to obey our Lord and Owner, what has changed is who the owner of the key is. Satan once owned us and kept us in bondage to self and sin whiles all the time maintaining possession of the keys. The salvation process of receiving Christ into our hearts prompts Jesus to transfer control of those keys to us. Yes, He is our Owner, Master and Lord, but we have become willing slaves, or as sometimes called bond slaves, to Him. The main difference between a regular slave and a bond slave is the regular slave has no option and cannot leave as he has no control over the keys. The bond slave can leave at any time since he maintains control over the keys. The one thing that remains the same for both is the obligation to obey without question.
There is a great difference for the bond slave in that his heart was turned towards the Master and the choice was made to serve Him which gives a whole new weight of importance to the relationship as described in the line from the song
“But there were chains
So I hastened to behave
There were chains
So I loved you like a slave”
I encourage you to listen to the song and meditate on the words. I suspect some different interpretations can be had, but as I have done this, I am being confronted with what I can best describe as a less than an obedient slave mentality towards God and perhaps an imbalance of viewing Him primarily as the one who loves me and gives me things – which of course He does. Since He is the all powerful Creator, I am leaning a bit more to the side of throwing away the key and yielding in obedience as my main focus.