I Am a ‘Slave to Christ,’ And I Wouldn't Have it Any Other Way
I can’t say I’ve always known what it truly means to be a Christian.
I can’t say I have understood the gospel or salvation my whole life — its gravity or application. I certainly did not come out of the womb acknowledging sin, being a sinner, or my need of repentance and a savior. These truths were gradually revealed to me by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Being born and raised in a Christian household was not my golden ticket to all knowledge — I still had to be born again and sanctified. And, of course, sanctification is lifelong.
Throughout my short life up until now, the Lord has blessed me with many faithful teachers, mentors, coworkers, family members, and friends, all of whom have proved fruitful in my walk with Christ.
A year of academic theological study gave me a new and deeply profound reverence for the Word of God. How miraculous it is! More than ever, I see God’s hand in absolutely everything. Through the broad lens of politics, sociology, economics, or science, I see how the Bible applies to each field. Narrow in, and matters of emotion, ambition, day-to-day living, marriage, gender, or anything under the sun does not escape God’s sovereignty and Lordship.
To some Christians, this is a really cool thing, perhaps even a grounding force behind the chaos of this earthly life. However, for many others, it can be intimidating. In a conversation I had this summer with my friend and my brother’s wife, I became more aware of these two realities.
My sister-in-law explained how daunting it can be to read the Bible. I can’t say I blame her. The Bible quite literally calls us to die to ourselves. Every righteous act we are to imitate is contrary to our sinful nature. It takes discipline to obey the simplest of commands. We often struggle to get out of bed for church in the morning. Add to this friction the debates surrounding various doctrines, denominations, and the seemingly endless list of how we are “called” to live according to the inspired Word of God.
From our earthly perspective, studying and living out Scripture certainly can be daunting.
In summary, my sister-in-law deemed this feeling akin to being a “slave to Christ,” and not in a good way. What my friend said in response was a portrayal of an utterly opposite perspective.
“Well,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be a slave to anything else!”
What a juxtaposition we have here. Is being a “slave to Christ,” then, positive or negative? Consider the words of Paul in Romans 6:17-18, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient … and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Borrowing the Apostles’ language, it may be confusing to be “set free” from one thing to become enslaved to another. And yet, this statement is prefaced with the words, “Thanks be to God.” For Paul, this is something worthy of thanksgiving, and I am inclined to agree.
Of course, Paul is grateful for the freedom from sin through the blood of Christ — as every believer ought to be. But this gratitude extends to that final phrase, “slaves of righteousness,” as well. Later, he uses the term by calling us “slaves of God.”
What I find interesting is how Paul states his use of “human terms” due to our “natural limitations.” Paul, indeed, proved to be an expert in being able to meet people where they are at. However, ironically enough, as understandable as the human term “slave” is, it is also often a source of angst. Because humans can so easily understand the negative implication of the term “slave,” it is instinctively something we want to avoid being associated with. So, why does Paul use it? This is where we are reminded of the importance of reading Scripture in context.
In context, we see how Paul uses the term “slave” to describe what our wills are in bondage to. We are slaves to what we choose to obey. If obeying the flesh is slavery or bondage to sin (which is bad), then obeying God is slavery or bondage to righteousness (which is exceedingly good). I don’t believe it was the intention of the Apostle to imply anything negative as much as he reminds us that, as Dr. Philip Irving Mitchell said, “freedom is always to be both free from something in order to be free for something.” We must be free from the enslavement of fleshly abetment to sin so we can be free in Christ, which we know is the only true freedom. Being a slave to Christ, to righteousness, or to God only means my flesh is no longer the master I serve.
So, then, what being a “slave to Christ” means is that I am now serving God, the perfect and holy Master — King of kings and Lord of lords.
Being a slave to Christ means I have life and life abundant. Being a slave to Christ means I can bear fruit, which, as Romans 6:22 states, “leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” A slave to Christ is to live a life of righteousness. A slave to Christ means to be embraced by His steadfast love and faithfulness. It means I can proclaim that “the wages of sin is death,” but because I am no longer a slave to sin, rather a slave to Christ, the free gift of God’s eternal life in Christ Jesus is mine (Romans 6:23).
A slave to Christ means my will is now committed to the glory of God.
So, you say I am a slave to Christ? Well, with complete certainty, I wouldn’t want to be a slave to anything else. In fact, I couldn’t have it any other way.
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.