One of the best ways to describe what it means to be a Christian is to be a slave of God.
Now we don’t always think of it like that. I was reading a book by Michael Card, and he was saying he was struck, a number of years ago, as he went into an African American church and listened to the prayers, because for the first time, he heard people praying to God, and addressing Him as Master. I guess one reason that struck him is because he was in the South and many of the ancestors of the people he was worshiping with had been slaves, and so they understood the word Master.
Perhaps another reason it struck him, is because we don’t always really think about what it means when we call Jesus Lord.
In the New Testament, one of the most frequent descriptions of Jesus, is as Lord.
The word Lord basically means master, boss, owner, the one with absolute authority over your life.
As Murray Harris, a scholar has said, “When believers sing or recite the confession ‘Jesus is Lord,’ we are affirming his absolute supremacy not only over the physical and moral universe, not only over human history, not only over human beings, not only over the church, but also over our own lives as willing slaves.”
Maybe nowhere in the New Testament is this reality explained more clearly than in Romans 14:7,8 where Paul writes,
“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
What is Paul talking about here and what does he say it means to call Jesus Lord?
It means bottom line, everything in our lives as believers should be focused on Jesus, everything should be evaluate in terms of His pleasure and His profit, because we belong to Him, He is our Master, we are His property.
It’s not just a nice word to call Jesus, it means He has absolute one hundred percent authority over our life. That’s why Jesus himself explains in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” The word Lord is meaningless if it is not followed up with obedience, because Lord means master.
And while that might makes us a little uncomfortable, the reality is, this is how believers all throughout the New Testament thought of themselves. If one of the most frequent descriptions of Jesus is as Lord, one of the more common descriptions of his followers is as slaves.
I know, we usually think of the gospel as a setting free, and it is. Certainly. One of the most common ways to describe Christ’s work on the cross is that of redemption, and the word redemption was a word borrowed from the world of slavery. It involved paying a price to set a slave free, and so what Christ has done on the cross, is to pay a price to set us free. But free from what? And free to what? Free from sin and Satan. And free to serve God.
The gospel is not the good news that you are free from slavery to Satan to be a slave to yourself, because it wouldn’t be good news if that is all Jesus did. The gospel is the good news that you have been freed from sin and Satan to be a slave to God, which is a better freedom.
There’s a paradox at the heart of the Christian life, and paradox means a statement that seems contradictory, but if you look at more closely it is true, and that paradox is that, we are never truly free until we become slaves of God. It’s only by submitting to Jesus as Master, that you can be free from all others. If we are Christians, we are free, in all the most important ways, we are free from slavery to sin. John 8:34, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin…if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” We are free from slavery to the fear of death. Hebrews 2:14, and 15. “By his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” We are free from having to live our lives pleasing people. Galatians 1:10, “Am I Paul now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a slave of Christ.”
But, the way in which we are set free from all of these things, is through a transfer of ownership. We are free by being owned. We have been set free from all the things that enslave us and do damage to us, by being purchased by a better master. We have been set free from a life-crushing slavery to a life-giving one.
Is this how you see yourself?
What would change in your life if you truly believed you were a slave of Jesus?