How to Find Freedom through Becoming a Slave
- Friday, October 09, 2009
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.
Don't become a doormat. The type of slavery God calls you to is obedience to His will for you - which will always respect your dignity. Your service to God should enrich your life, not diminish it, even as you make sacrifices and work humbly. Don't let others mistreat you while you're serving. Have the courage to lovingly yet firmly confront those who do.
Embrace your scars. Remember that, Jesus chose to bear the marks of His crucifixion on His resurrected body. Don't hide the scars - both physical and emotional - that you've incurred through your own acts of service. Instead, embrace them as evidence of what you've gone through and how God has worked in your life.
When you flee, ask your master to capture you again. Recognize your constant vulnerability to temptations that can seduce you into fleeing from your master - Jesus - by running away from how He calls you to live. Pray for the faith and strength to return to a close relationship with Jesus whenever you stray. Confess and repent of your sins regularly. Don't allow anything to block the intimacy He wants to have with you.
Keep dying so you can live. Jesus' call to die to your own agenda each day will make it possible for you to really live. Follow His example of the paradoxical life: As He died in order to live, He surrendered to achieve victory and He won everything by losing everything. Trust Him to guide you every day.
Adapted from A Better Freedom: Finding Life as Slaves of Christ, copyright 2009 by Michael Card. Published by IVP Books, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.
Michael Card is an award-winning musician, performing artist and writer of "El Shaddai," "Immanuel" and many other songs. He has produced more than 20 albums. He has also written numerous books, including A Sacred Sorrow, A Violent Grace, The Parable of Joy and Sleep Sound in Jesus (a children's book). A graduate of Western Kentucky University with a bachelor's and master's degrees in biblical studies, Card is currently at work on a Ph.D. in classical literature. He also serves as mentor to many younger artists and musicians, teaching courses on the creative process and calling the Christian recording industry into deeper discipleship. Card lives in Tennessee with his wife and four children.
Original publication date: October 9, 2009
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