My big pile of books-to-read includes a lot of non-fiction. This week I read a short biography of Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) published under the "Heroes of the Faith" series. The bio was written by Rachael Phillips.
Reading this book was so to-the-core moving; learning what this amazing man went through, first as a slave then as a runaway slave speaking openly against slavery, then as a free man speaking openly against slavery (when slavery was still in effect in many states). I was close to tears several times. It also led me on several tangental trains of thought. I hope to visit these thoughts further in a few posts ... but on a quick tangent, I wish we had read more on the Civil War era back in school; I think reading our own 19th and 20th century history would go a long way in helping Americans understand each other and where we live ...
In chapter five I read how one of the slaves masters Frederick Douglass worked for would regularly beat Frederick's slightly older, teenaged sister, Eliza. The cruelty of that man's actions hurt all the deeper because the man would quote Scripture at her to justify himself.
He quoted the Book of Luke, chapter 12, verse 47, which reads: "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows." Considering Frederick was learning to read (on the sneak) by reading the Bible, this was especially rotten use.
I was unfamiliar with that verse, so I looked it up. It falls under a section (I am reading the New International Version) with the heading "Watchfulness". I read the section which includes the verse immediately following it:
"47 That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
When I was done reading, the verses scared me.
This man, this adult, male slave master beating his underaged, female servant was quoting a red letter verse as he hit her. "Red letters" are the literal red letters printed in some Bibles to help locate and identify the direct teachings of Jesus Christ. So this man was quoting what Jesus had said.
The cruelty of its being twisted to this man's purpose became even more foul. This man was supposedly a Christian -- and in good standing! -- at his church.
But here is the scary part: in this section Jesus had been speaking to and teaching his disciples; telling them to be watchful. The section begins with "35 Be dressed ready for service, and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return ..."
Jesus wasn't referring to literal worldly "slave masters and slaves" like this slave master thought.
In verse 47-48 Jesus was referring to His own disciples. To Christians.