Remember the Borg?
Remember the Borg? They were a race of aliens in the Star Trek movies and television series. Like extraterrestrial locusts they traveled the galaxy, consuming entire civilizations, absorbing the distinctives of each conquered culture into their own. The Borg shared a hive mind: one thought, one value, one direction, one goal. Uniqueness belonged to all and to none. They were the epitome of our current cultural clamor for indistinguishable oneness. All life mattered but no single life mattered. The whole counted, the individual did not, beyond their contribution to the whole.
As the Borg encountered each new civilization and culture, they sent one single message: “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. You must comply. Resistance is futile!” I hear echoes of these same sentiments in the activities of contemporary culture: “We are the vaccinated. You will be jabbed. Resistance is futile!” or “We are the woke. You will assume our worldview. Resistance is futile!” or “We are the oppressed. You will be cancelled. Resistance is futile!” The underlying value in each of these cultural thrusts is that acceptance and personal value is doled out only to those who comply. To be certified under current cultural standards a person must sacrifice all individual uniqueness and assume the hive mind and purpose. It seems the Borg have arrived from the future, not with space ships but with crises and shame and subtle deceits.
Why remind you of the Borg? Why suggest cultural parallels? Because of Romans 1. Verses 1 – 7 in particular. I’ve been spending time with Paul and the Holy Spirit inspired, God-honoring, Christ-exalting, gospel-focused ideas he includes in the introduction to his letter to the Christian church at Rome. Paul identifies himself in three ways in these verses and then, by the end of his introduction in verse 7, demonstrates that these Christian believers parallel his own experience of Christ through the gospel. And what Paul experiences in and through and because of Jesus looks NOTHING like Borgism (or current culture.)
Paul identifies himself as a doulos of Jesus Christ, kletos to be an apostle, and aphoridzo for the gospel of God. That is, he is a slave of Christ Jesus, selected and assigned to be an apostle, and separated, severed, set apart for the gospel of God. In still other words, he is utterly surrendered to the will of Christ Jesus, utterly devoted to the purpose of Christ, and utterly aligned with the character of Christ. And, like Paul, Christians are individually called to belong to Jesus Christ (verse 6) and to be saints (verse 7), which is, at heart, a position of separation from the world to God.
Paul declares that the state of the Christian is uniquely separate and different than the state and condition of the world. So, I’ve been pondering three questions:
- What does it mean to be a slave of Christ Jesus? And not just what does it mean to be a slave in general, but what does it mean for ME to be a slave of Christ Jesus?
- What does it mean to be called, to be selected and assigned to a particular kingdom task? What does it mean for me for God to go beyond a mere invitation to an authorized appointment of my life to a task and purpose of His choosing? What does it mean for me to be called by God and that calling to faith to have inherent in it an ordained purpose for me and my life on the planet?
- What does it mean to be separated to God, severed from the world, set apart from culture to live as one who is hagios, holy, having the character of God and exemplifying the unique relationship of God to creation (and specifically, current culture)? What does it mean for ME, personally, to be like God and different than the world (which is the essential meaning of “holy”)?
The culture demands compliance, assimilation, absorption. God refuses and calls His people to be separate, different, unique. I’d like to dig into each of the aforementioned questions individually. The church, and the individual Christians who make up the church, are the targets of a spiritual plot the goal of which is annihilation of the church, the extinction of the worship of Christ, and end of the spread of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord in the world (see Revelation 13:7; Ephesians 6:11-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Peter 2:1-3.) Some predict that these are the days of the great apostasy, the great falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4:
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
Some believe that many who call themselves Christian will succumb to the current cultural, Borgish cry for total conformity. I believe those who understand and embrace the identity Paul describes in Romans 1:1-7 will be far less subject to deceit and the destructive schemes of the evil one. So, let’s explore and love and own for ourselves what the Holy Spirit, speaking through the apostle Paul, offers us in the identity of one who is a slave of Christ Jesus, called to a distinctly Christ honoring mission, and separated to the gospel of God.
We’ll take up question one next time: What does it mean to be a slave of Christ Jesus?