Christian Slavery Provides True Friends
IF SOMEONE suggested that you become a slave, how would you react? What would you say if someone admitted he was a slave and said that he really enjoyed it? Would you be surprised to know that a certain form of slavery is recommended in God’s Word the Bible, and that it results in true, genuine friendship?
You may reason that the idea of a lasting friendship is a good one. But that suggestion of being a slave is a bitter pill to swallow, you may conclude. It is true that when one thinks of slavery one generally associates it with oppression. However, the slavery recommended in God’s Word is something altogether different. While it does involve servitude and work, it is under a loving master with definite benefits provided.
Consider the attitude of God’s Son Jesus Christ as expressed prophetically in the Bible psalm: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.” (Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:5-7) Jesus was happy to do the will of God. “He emptied himself,” the Bible says, “and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men.”—Phil. 2:7.
What an example of humility! Though enjoying glory and honor in heaven, yet he willingly took on “a slave’s form” because it was his Father’s will. “For this very reason also,” the Bible says, “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.” (Phil. 2:9) What blessings for faithfulness to God!
All who would follow closely in the footsteps of Jesus Christ must become slaves. “You were bought with a price [the ransom sacrifice of Jesus],” the Bible reminds Christians. (1 Cor. 7:23) The early disciples were pleased to announce their position as slaves. James opened his letter: “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jas. 1:1) Paul opened letters similarly: “Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” (Titus 1:1; Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1) These men were happy to be slaves of the heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ.
The issue today is not whether you want to be a slave or not. No, for you are a slave regardless of what you do, as the Bible explains: “Do you not know that if you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him, either of sin with death in view or of obedience with righteousness in view?” (Rom. 6:16) So the real question is, Which master do you choose to serve?
Consider the benefits of being a slave of God in contrast to being a slave to what he opposes. A Bible letter addressed to Christians says: “However, now, because you were set free from sin but became slaves to God, you are having your fruit in the way of holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:22, 23) Yes, by becoming faithful “slaves to God” you have the assured promise of everlasting life.
You cannot escape this fact: No man is really totally free. Men who think that they are free to live in harmony with their conscience are actually in slavery to their own fleshly desires. They are slaves to sin. But they will not admit it.
On one occasion a man accused a Christian minister when he was calling from house to house: “That Bible you use is your crutch. Your thoughts are not your own; they come from that book!” The minister brought to the man’s attention the library of books that he had covering some of the walls of his home. The minister tactfully pointed out that this man’s ideas were the thinking of philosophers that he was constantly quoting.
It is a fact. We all have thoughts that originate from an outside source. These mold our thinking and course of action. How happy Christian slaves can be that they are motivated by the thoughts and actions of God and Christ!
TRUE FRIENDS OBTAINED
Jesus Christ showed the grand friendship that results from Christian servitude. He told his disciples: “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:14) Note carefully that condition upon which this friendship rests. It is conditioned upon doing what Christ and his Father say. We never want to lose sight of that fact. The matter can be nicely illustrated.
It is like a father strolling along the beach with his son. They are playing and laughing together. The father runs and climbs the sand dunes with his son and they are really getting along well together. The son looks up at his father and asks: “Daddy, am I your friend?” The father answers, “Yes, son, of course you’re my friend.”
Later on the father calls to the son that it is time to go home. The son hesitates, “But I don’t want to go in. I want to stay out here and play.” The father warns: “Well, you had better obey me if you know what is good for you.”
“But, Daddy, I thought you said we were friends.”
“Yes,” agrees the father. “We are friends as long as you do what I say.”
So it is with our friendship as Christians with God and Christ. The marvelous relationship we have is due to our obedience to their commands. This friendship we never want to lose. But remember that it is Christian slavery that provides these true friends.