Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Friday, July 9, 2010


A few days ago, we celebrated Independence Day here in the U.S. At least I hope people had the time to celebrate and reflect on what the 4th of July meant beyond just fireworks, picnics, and family get-togethers.

For many, Independence Day conjures up thoughts and images of our forefathers fighting a great war and signing a piece of paper declaring our independence as a nation from a tyrannical king and ruler. Freedom meant something to these patriarchs. And freedom means something to us.

Some of us would fight tooth and nail if we thought that our freedoms were being taken away. In fact, some of our wars were about fighting back against ruthless oppressors of freedom like Adolf Hitler (World War II), Joseph Stalin (Cold War), and Saddam Hussein (Gulf War).

The problem is is that we have such a limited perspective and foresight. Most of us would agree that without freedom we would relegate ourselves to subserviency. And what is subserviency but the idea of being slaves. But what if I told you that there is a positive connotation to the word slave? You would say that I have lost my mind.

Let me ask you something. If President Obama asked you to be his slave, what would you say? I'm not asking how you would feel if he somehow forced it on you, but how would you respond if it was voluntary? Would it be positive? Would you consider it a privilege? Would you think it was a great honor? Why or why not?

Does the word "slave" offend you? In America, the very word "slave" might get you ostracized, if you said it the wrong way. You probably couldn't show your face in public again. And for very good reason. Throughout history, forcing people into slavery meant harsh and cruel conditions. Our nation went through some of its most difficult years because it couldn't reconcile this issue of slavery. You don't have to go back into history, though, to realize that a form of slavery takes place even today. The sex-slave trade is very real. And very current. And in some countries with dictators and tyrannical rulers, one could make the claim that slavery is a way of life there.

So how could the very notion of being a slave be positive in any sense of the word? For the Christian, it should.


I'll say it again. For the Christian, slavery should be positive. But you're probably thinking I'm still talking about this from a human perspective. Think bigger. Think about what our lives should look like in relation to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But again, you're probably thinking we're supposed to be free in Christ. That God has given us freedom through Jesus and the cross. And you'd be right!


Both can't be true...can it? Actually, yes.

In all actuality, we are free. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." This Jesus said as He was reading from the scroll of Isaiah. Luke 4: 17-19 Later Jesus told the Jews that believed Him that, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-33

This doesn't sound like God is calling us to a life of slavery, does it? No, but...

The Apostle Paul helps explain this irony. In Romans 6:16, Paul says, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"

Aha! Slaves to righteousness! Doesn't that sound like a good thing? But here's the thing. Whereas being a slave in worldly terms is almost always a decision that is forced on a person, with Jesus it's a voluntary act. Paul even described himself as a bondservant (a slave)! The act of being a bondservant back in Biblical days could be a voluntary decision. At, it says,

Even when the seventh year came, the slave had a right to pledge himself, with awl-pierced ear, to perpetual service for his master (Exodus 21:5 f; Deuteronomy 15:16). The traditional interpretation of "forever" in these passages is "until the next Jubilee year" (compare Kiddushin 21).

Paul explains his decision to be a bondservant further:

Romans 6:17-22
17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Now don't get me wrong. Being a slave, even for righteousness' sake, has it's implications. When we make the decision to follow Christ, does He not say to count the cost? Luke 14:25-33 tells us a lot about what it means to follow Jesus.

Luke 14:25-33

The Cost of Being a Disciple 
25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

31"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

So, given this information, let's rethink about what God would have us to believe about slavery. I know our tendencies, due to our culture or because of history, is to think negatively about it. And when slavery is talked about in those terms, we should be adamantly against it. Even fight against such horrific, inhumane acts. But if Jesus is to be our Lord and Savior, we must rethink our views about what it means to follow Christ. If he is to be our Lord, then He is to be our Master as well.

In Christ's service, His bondservant,


  1. Yes a great post about slavery, glad to be one to righteousness.

  2. Very true Kim. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. "Slaves to righteousness!" I love it!!! It is amazing how much of what society teaches contradicts the Bible. I am glad their are people like you trying to set it straight!

  4. Faith...

    I know I run a little against the grain. :) Asking people to rethink how they think can only be done by God and His Word. Thank you for your kind comment. And thanks for stopping by!

  5. I do hate the word slave but to Him....I would do it gladly....He bought my freedom. Thanks for this Dean...

  6. Sarah,

    Slave may not be the word we would like to use. I even prefer the term bondservant. That seems to have greater meaning to it because I choose to be so.

    Thanks for stopping by!