I'm a slave but I'm free. What?

Philippians 1:1 - "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus..."

"Servants" is literally "slave". This had vivid meaning to Paul due to his current and past experience of being a Roman captive. In fact, Paul wrote the book of Philippians while a captive. Paul looked in the mirror and considered himself a "slave" of Jesus - a captive of Jesus - in bondage to Jesus.

Which brings up a paradox. Paul stated and identified himself as a slave to Jesus, yet he also lived in and taught that there is freedom in Christ. Galatians 5:1 states, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." The Greek word for "servant" in Phil. 1:1 is "doulos" which literally means "slave". And the Greek word for "freedom" in Gal. 5:1 is "eleutheria" which means being free of restraint.

Say what?

Why does Paul refer to himself as a slave of Christ but yet lived and taught freedom in Christ? Here's the deal...as followers of Christ, our obedience and allegiance is to Jesus. He leads. We follow. In a perfect relationship with Jesus (which is what we need to be pursuing), there would be zero objections to doing exactly what Jesus commands. Obedience would be immediate and without question. We are slaves to His teaching. And as His slaves, He protects us. Loves us. Showers blessing on us. Reveals Himself to us. Gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us - guiding, convicting, empowering, gifting, illuminating. And He is preparing a place for us in heaven for when our purpose and time on this earth is complete.

Being a slave to Christ also means we have freedom from any other rule or commandment or tradition which compels us to follow in order to get right with God. Before becoming a follower of Christ, we were in bondage to self-effort to attain right standing with God ... which is absolutely futile. It is impossible to attain right standing with God via self-effort. No matter how good our works are via self-effort, they immeasurably fall short of God's goodness and holiness. In Christ, we are free from that. We don't depend on our works but on the work of Christ. That is where the freedom is. We are free from having to prove ourselves. Free from religious law and tradition which say we must follow to gain right standing with God. Free from the guilt of realizing we can't perfectly follow such rules and traditions. Our justification is found in what Christ did not in what we do.

Today - I am going to look in the mirror and proclaim that I am a slave of Jesus and in that slavery, I am free.