You don’t have to go any further than the word “gay” to know that the meaning of words change. In fifty years that word has traveled from someone who is full of pure joy, to a person who is a homosexual, to today’s use of the word meaning to have the joy pulled out of something (i.e. “He said we can’t go swimming? That’s gay.”). I got to thinking in the wee hours of the morning about the word “slave” and how our monolithic use of the word possibly affects the church. In most of our minds we run a pretty quick circuit when we hear the word of an auctioneer selling a large black man who is taken, used, beaten, worked to exhaustion and ill treated. And we quickly come to the conclusion “no person should own another person” and that is that. And this is going to get me into all kinds of trouble - but I agree...sort of.
Now before you show up at my house ready to burn it down - I say sort of - because we are slaves. All of us. Slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Inspiration often speaks of being a slave of the Lord.
But it’s a ruined word in our culture. You know I’m not advocating slavery as known in colonial America or parlaying the concept of owning another. But it is from the same word that we get our word “deacon.” Is it possible that our “hatred” for the concept foils our understanding of the word?
A “deacon” becomes a man “over” something when in reality it is more to truth that he is a man “under” Christ. He is first under submission. In chains. With strictures. Not a man with a title (name on a letterhead, bulletin master or political card) or really “in charge” at all. It is only after that understanding that we can begin to appreciate the concept that he is responsible to a Master for a task - a servant, a waiter. We sometimes make him a man “of” authority, when in reality he is a man “under” authority. I even use the term “deacon over ____.” That’s really incorrect. It is more “deacon responsible for ______.” He’s going to make sure the Master’s job is done. He’s a slave. And since I’ve got to be a slave, I’ll take Jesus as my Master.
*NOTE: I know and have known some great "deacons" who understand and fulfill the concept completely. These deacons are always the best people I know.