Vessels or Vassals?

I posted this on another site three-and-a-half years ago and thought that I had also published it on this site. Evidently I didn’t and I wanted to repost it because of what is going on in many of our churches today and within the lives of those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. It is presented in its entirety and just as relevant now as a few years ago. —- Pastor Roland Ledoux

Now you may be wondering why in the world would I use a somewhat archaic term such as “vassals” in reference to this lesson, but I’ll give you the dictionary meaning. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the meaning is as follows:

vassals (plural noun)

1. a holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance.

synonyms: serf · dependent · servant · slave · subject · bondsman ·

a person or country in a subordinate position to another:

Example: “a much stronger nation can also turn a weaker one into a vassal state”

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2 Corinthians 4:5-7, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Servanthood, paying allegiance to whom many of us call “our Heavenly Father,” sounds noble enough, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what God, Jehovah, our Creator desires of us after all?

Many people, Christians, live their lives according to this premise. They do what they think the Lord commands them to do. They give, they share, they attend church religiously, they help where asked, as servants, they are the epitome of what a Christian truly is. Sorry folks, don’t mean to shatter your image of what a Christian should be, but that is not it!

The difference between a vassal and a true servant of the Lord is those words that keep cropping up in my teaching, unconditional love, or in Biblical terms, AGAPE!! You see, a vassal is a servant under obligation. They give allegiance or homage to someone for something in return, and as you see in the definition used above, usually as a weaker subject under a stronger one.

Okay, you might be saying, “but our Lord IS the stronger in our relationship, and we are the weaker, it’s all over the Bible.” Again, true, but you’re missing an important part of being a vassal, obligation! Love doesn’t have to enter in at all. You’re not quite a slave, but you’re also not your own person, because you are doing something FOR something. In feudal times, is was allegiance for land. You didn’t have to love the “lord of the land” you just had to be there for him, you paid him a tax or a fee. Whether it be actual currency or crops, you gave a part of your work for the benefit of living on a parcel of land.

Obligation, unconditional love? Aren’t they the same though when we relate to the Lord? After all, we most often use the term, “Lord!” Doesn’t he DESERVE our unconditional love and shouldn’t we expect something in return, say, Heaven perhaps?? What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that how religion works anyway?

Wow! You bet it is!! RELIGION works exactly that way, Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and on and on and on. But religion is NOT being “spiritual.” It is NOT walking in the Spirit! Christianity was NEVER meant to be a religion; it was the Romans who called it a new religion, it was the Jewish Pharisees who termed it a new religion. It is and was always meant to be a changed lifestyle; a changed LIFE!!

Being obligated to someone does not equate to unconditional “agape” love! Unconditional means just that; NOT expecting anything in return. You can know that Heaven is involved, but even if it wasn’t, unconditional love says you would love anyway! You love someone for who they are, not for what you can get. A vassal will always expect something in return and a vassal’s lord will always expect to give something in return for that loyalty!

On the other hand, when you SURRENDER yourself, especially your will to another, you do just what that term defines; you give up. You give up yourself, self, YOUR life. You place your life, self, will into the hands of the other, without regard for anything in return. I have said this over and over and over and I will not stop, LOVE is an action; it is a verb. As a true Christian, we are not speaking of love as a noun, as a THING, as a feeling. Yes, the feeling could be there, and it will be, eventually, but it first takes the action and only after the action, is the thing, the feeling realized in truth and actuality!

A Christian’s walk, his life is based on the doing, the very act of loving and not the feeling. In the case of intercessory prayer, another action that I teach about, how can you rely on the feeling for someone you may never know or even meet face to face while on this earth? If I relied on my feeling alone for someone, they would never BE intercession. But LOVE, unconditionally given, expecting nothing in return, motivates me to action, to spend time in prayer for someone I may never meet until Heaven; and even then we might not meet them, but that is not the point of intercession. We intercede because we pray for the Lord’s creation because they ARE the Lord’s creation, therefore, our brothers and sisters in flesh if not in spirit! We pray for another’s well-being and we may never know how that prayer is answered. Notice I said how and not if that prayer is answered. Our Heavenly Father ALWAYS answers prayer and especially intercessory prayer!

A vassal, doesn’t do that. Because he doesn’t get anything in return for the time spent. Time spent is just that, it is spent, it can’t be regained, you don’t barter or negotiate with the Creator for more time (despite the Bibles evidence that it has been done, does not make it a doctrine or something to expect again!).

But you see, the Apostle Paul stated this in 2 Corinthians that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels,…” Notice that? Vessels, not vassals. We have a treasure in earthen vessels! First, a vessel is something totally different than what we have been discussing. A vessel is a container, something which can HOLD something that is put or poured into it. Second, a vessel has no control over what goes into it. It is an object, a tool, something to be used for a given purpose.

As a Christian, a person who has (supposedly) given up their lives, their selves, their will, they become empty vessels (we should be empty) that the Lord, our Redeemer can use for whatever purpose HIS will deems fit. To become an empty vessel DEMANDS an action of unconditional love! To give up your will, your life so that our Heavenly Father can use you for whatever purpose He sees fit, takes an action of love. It is not, nor could it be motivated by only a feeling. If you give yourself up for any other reason it is not unconditional and therefore not the kind of love that the Lord can use.

The Apostle Paul tells us why the Lord wants this kind of vessel, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The excellency of the power? What power? You know if you are only the vessel it HAS to be God’s power for we have no power, excellent or not! “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

He desires to use us to show or demonstrate the LIGHT of knowledge, the Glory of His being and of His Son, Jesus Christ! It is the same light that He commanded to chase away the darkness in the world, in the universe! Genesis 1:3-4, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Now THAT is power!! AND He wants to use us a vessel, a container to demonstrate that power!! How AWESOME and amazing is that?!

But remember, only an empty vessel can be used. If you place yourself at the feet of the Lord and say, “here I am, use me” you better make sure that the vessel is usable. Empty means just that, nothing in it already or else you will be diluting the power and the demonstration of light and knowledge that our Lord wants others to see. The same principle is applied in the parable of hiding your light (His LIGHT) under a basket!

And here’s the kicker; only through the Blood of Jesus Christ, can allow us to present ourselves as vessels worthy of being used as the receptacle for the power of God! Only the Blood of the Redeemer can coat the insides of this vessel. It HAS to cover our heart, our mind, it has to renew our spirit so that we may be united as one with the Lord just as the Father and Son are one!

Now imagine this, imagine the light that would shine, if we ALL as empty vessels allow the Lord through the Blood of our Redeemer and the unity found in the Holy Spirit, that we could generate to a darkened world!! I’m not talking about some “kumbaya” moment, that lasts only that long; I’m talking about lives that magnify and shine the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” out to a dark and dying world!

Can you imagine? Can you see with your spiritual eyes, the kind of impact that would have all around us? Light shining out in unity instead of being closed off or covered by the four walls of a “brick and mortar” organization that was never meant to dampen the power and light of a God and Father who wishes that NONE in the world should perish. Also don’t forget what was stated before, if we are to be those vessels and if the power of that light was meant to shine forth from us, then we can’t have any filters, or masks on. That light has to shine forth not just to the world but to each of us who call one another brother and sister! That demands, transparency, warts and all! Spots and wrinkles if you want!

Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle and the only way to NOT have spots or wrinkles is if the Blood of Christ Jesus is washing away those blemishes. Have you noticed that when your clothes have a stain and you put it in the washer, that it takes time to get that stain out? You notice that your washer uses a cleaner AND agitation? Jesus’ Blood is our cleaner and the trials of the world is the agitation! We need one another, those who have already surrendered ourselves to Christ and His will to be in UNITY of the Holy Spirit and to recognize that each of us is in a state of cleaning. Some have been in the cleaning process for a while and some have just been put into the “washer.”

The key is to look at one another through the eyes of God, our Father. He sees each of us who have surrendered to the Blood of Jesus and empowered by His Spirit as already clean. The same way you expect your clothes to be clean as soon as you place them in the washer. You already see them clean. So it is with the Father! We each need to walk in that same light!

A vessel is a vessel because of yielding oneself voluntarily to be used for the purpose of God our Father. We do so because HE IS the Father and for no other reason, unconditionally. We encourage one another in the same light. We strengthen one another for that same purpose, without judgement, and in unity through the Spirit that empowers and quickens us. Only in that do we become a force in this darkened world for the Lord’s knowledge to shine forth. Let’s take off our masks, let’s be transparent for if we truly are the Lord’s, there are no secrets before Him? Let us love one another AND our neighbor as the Lord loves us all, unconditionally. Let the Holy Spirit of God deal with the consequences of those unselfish actions.

In closing, let US become the Church, the Body of Christ, the BRIDE of Christ that Jesus is coming back for!! Unconditional Love, it’s the theme of the whole Bible. It was the theme of Jesus when He walked this earth and it is STILL the theme of Christ who lives and breathes in each of our hearts. It’s that theme that allows us THROUGH Christ Jesus, the same intimate relationship with the Father, empowered by His Holy Spirit! It is why today, right now, we ARE called, as the Apostle John writes in his Epistles, children of God! Let’s be the earthen vessels that allows that light to shine out to others!!

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of intercessory prayer, encouragement and exhortation of the Word of God and author of the ministry blog, For The Love of God. I live in Delta, Colorado with my beautiful wife of 49+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom we affectionately call Bella.
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