Joyful Slavery


New concepts are always exciting and liberating. Paradoxically, one ancient yet new concept i’ve wrestled with has been particulary liberating. It is the concept of slavery to Christ. When Paul, Peter, James and Jude identify themselves as slaves of Christ, what exactly do they mean? What are the implications of being referred to as slaves of righteousness in Romans 6? How far does Christ being our Master really go? How far should it? Questions like these serve as signs to lead us down our own spiritual journey towards the greatest freedom we have ever known through total submission to Christ.

I’ve come to discover that once I feel like i’ve achieved a certain level of theological mastery, that in reality I’ve only turned the corner to a brand new corridor. There is always a new corridor. When I turned the corner into this new passageway, I found  many of the rooms closed off because of preconceptions that existed in my own mind. They really turned out to be misconceptions. I didn’t want to be a slave. I didn’t want to use slave language. After all, slavery is a brutal business.

One of the major reasons I was so resistant to submitting to this slavery which the Bible was calling me to is because it cut against the grain of ideals that all Americans hold so dear. From the time we are born, we are conditioned to become independent and self-advancing dreamers. In stark contrast, the call of Christ is the call to take up your cross and follow Him. Despite the resistance of my mind, this biblical thought was deeply resonating with my heart and I knew that my true identity as a slave of Christ wasn’t up to me.

Once my heart and mind studied this wonderful truth, it shifted from being uncomfortable to being precious. Life becomes exceedingly simple when you have one Master to please. His purposes become your purposes, His pleasures become your pleasures and His power works on your behalf.

I’d like to challenge you to think through this wonderful concept in more detail. Consider reading two fantastic books on this concept: Slave by John MacArthur and A Better Freedom by Michael Card.

We belong to the One who, in effect, bought us. The New Testament does not offer the choice between slavery and freedom, but only whose slave we will be – the world’s or Christ’s. Jesus does not offer freedom from slavery, but instead a new kind of slavery that provides the only true freedom. I cannot buy my freedom. Only Jesus can.” (A Better Freedom by Michael Card)

More importantly, trace the concept yourself from the word of God. Grab a Holman Christian Standard Version of the Bible (This is one of the very few versions that translates the greek word “Doulos” into the accurate english as slave) and wrestle with this liberating truth. If you don’t reference a HCSB, then keep in mind that often in the New Testament when you read the word “servant” it could be better translated as slave. Read through some of the following passages and get a feel for their context:

  • 1 Corinthians 7:22-24
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • Matthew 6:24
  • Matthew 25:23
  • Luke 1:38, 46-48
  • Philippians 2:1-11
  • Romans 6:15-18

I’d like to conclude with some fairly difficult questions:

  1. What is your first reaction to being referred to as a slave of Christ?
  2. What rights, dreams, goals or aspirations do you have that you are unwilling to submit to Christ?
  3. Does your life demonstrate a willingness to submit to the Masters will in any given situation?
  4. How could your walk with Christ benefit from the biblical concept of slavery to Christ?

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