May 23

Acts 16:16-24

“She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.” vs. 18

In the Roman world slavery was a way of life. Paul likely encountered the practice everywhere he went–in fact, as he preached and his words were taken to heart, slaves listened too and some became a part of those early congregations. It does not seem to have occurred to Paul that the whole institution should be challenged–it was just the way things were. But Paul was also aware of another kind of slavery, one of the spirit, and when confronted by the slave girl in Philippi, moved to free her from her spirit of divination. Ironically, the girl had irritated Paul by calling him a slave of the Most High God, one who proclaimed a new way of salvation. Paul may not have seen it at the time, but she was right. Paul had been taken captive by the Spirit of Christ on the road to Damascus, and had been daily following the instructions of that Spirit in his mission activities. That’s one of the great paradoxes of life in Christ. On the one hand we have been set free from the burdens of sin and death and given the gifts of peace, and joy. But we have also become slaves of the Spirit, compelled by our call to serve and love in the name of Jesus–and what a blessing that slavery is!

Thought for the Day: In what ways am I a slave?

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