9 Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.
In Rome, just like with children, the master is the oldest male in the household. He could punish slaves by mistreating them, abandoning them, or killing them. But, Paul is calling on masters to repent. Turn to the new way in the new kingdom.
Again, for our own practical purposes, it helps to look at this from an employment perspective. Masters are those who supervise and lead in business. So, in other words, business owners and supervisors, treat your employees with deep respect and fear as if you are supervising Jesus himself. Treat your employees as if Jesus is watching you, because he is. Treat your employees the way you want God to treat you. When your employees flourish, you flourish.
We can see that in business as well as family, to follow Jesus is to turn the ways of the world upside down. We are to act as if we are living for God when we live for others. Because we are living for God when we live for others.
You see, with God, not one of us is better than anyone else. Not one of us is worse than anyone else. In God’s eyes, we are all the same. He is to be our God and we are to be his people. And like with parents and children, employers and employees, God has no favorites. We are all precious and we are all equal before him.
This is how God wires the world. This explains why the treatment of children flourishes where Christianity has strong influence, why slavery is condemned and no longer practiced in places informed by Christianity, this explains why the whole human rights movement comes out of Christian teaching in our world. There has always been a minority of Christians who have gotten these things right throughout history. That all human beings are noble in God’s eyes. That God shows no partiality. We are all equal before him.
I say minority because this is where it starts. The world as lived by human beings on human wisdom and by human power is a destructive world and it continues to be the way of the world. But, like Paul with slavery, the seeds we plant by living another way, counter to the ways of the world, grow into God’s Kingdom influence transforming the ways of our world. The hope of the world is Jesus and the way Jesus works is through us. So, the hope of the world is in the minority of Christians who actually live their family lives and work lives as if they are living for God himself. Because we are.
Look up “William Wilberforce” and reflect on his life as it relates to today’s reading.