Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Michael Card's new book, A Better Freedom: Finding Life as Slaves of Christ, (IVP Books, 2009).

Freedom is never free; it always costs something. And the ultimate freedom - spiritual freedom - is possible for you only because Jesus paid the great cost through His sacrifice on the cross.  It can often seem like following your own agenda in life will make you free. But doing so only leads to bondage. The only way to truly be free is through a paradoxical path: becoming a slave to Christ.

Here's how becoming a slave to Christ will lead you to real freedom:

Learn from Jesus' example.  Even though Jesus was a part of God, He chose to serve on Earth like a slave, humbling Himself and making huge sacrifices for the benefit of others.  Jesus submitted Himself to God's will and obeyed it, no matter how much that demanded from Him.  He was a master who chose to live as a slave.

Discover the gifts of grace that slavery makes possible.  Justification is one gift that comes into your life because of the interdependent relationship between Jesus and you when you trust Him to be the master of all areas of your life.  Redemption is another gift that results from Jesus' sacrifice that paid the price to purchase your life for eternity with His own life.  Reconciliation is a gift that flows from your response to Jesus' love for you; when you decide to live as He calls you to live - as a slave - you experience the freedom of being connected to Him in a close relationship.  What had been separated is now joined together.

Look at your circumstances from Jesus' perspective.  No matter how difficult your current circumstances are, you don't need to worry, because your master - Jesus - is in ultimate control of what happens to you.  Even Christians who have lived in slavery to human masters throughout history had confidence in their spiritual freedom that was greater than the slavery they endured on Earth.  Jesus says to expect trouble in this fallen world that's full of sin, but rest assured that your master will empower you to overcome whatever trouble you encounter.

Use your freedom from the tyranny of self to live fully.  The Bible says that you've been set free from sin so that you can become a slave to righteousness - and that will lead you to experience the freedom of living a full and fearless life.  Instead of trying to please other people, you're free to please God alone.  Rather than wasting time and energy judging others, you're free to heal divisions with the love God gives you.  Instead of arguing with others, you're free to forgive and serve them, knowing that you can place your concerns in God's hands and trust Him to work every situation out for the best.

Let the knowledge of who your master is motivate you to obey Him.  Jesus isn't anything like human slave masters, who can be cruel and unjust.  By contrast, Jesus is full of love and mercy.  He asks you to do only that which He knows is best for you.  His goal isn't to take what He can from you; it's to help you grow and keep giving to you in the process.  He doesn't just send you out to work and sit back to rest Himself; He works alongside you, giving you all the power and encouragement you need.  So when God calls you to do something, don't hesitate to do your duty.  Even when the people God leads you to serve don't thank you, He notices and will reward you.   Still, check your motives to make sure that you're saying "yes" to God as a way of expressing love to Him rather than trying to earn favor.  God's great love for you should motivate you to respond by loving and serving Him.