The late Bill Bright was a man who left a large footprint on the field of Christian service. Bill was the founder of one of the world’s largest Christian ministries, Campus Crusade for Christ, which he effectively developed and led for over fifty years. At the time of his death in 2003, the ministry boasted 26,000 staff members, and 225,000 volunteers in close to 200 countries. Through Campus Crusade, Bill’s books, the well-known Four Spiritual Laws tract, and the “Jesus” film, millions have been touched, and hundreds of thousands of lives transformed, by the gospel of Jesus Christ pictured and proclaimed through Bill’s work.
On numerous occasions Bill was asked why God might have used and blessed his life so abundantly. His answer was always the same. He said in so many words and on so many occasions, “When I was a young man, I made a contract with God. I literally wrote it out and signed my name at the bottom. It said, ‘From this day forward, I am a bondslave of Jesus Christ.’”
That is a contract we all need to sign today! God’s people, like Christ’s apostles, are bondservants or slaves of Christ (Rom. 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1; Rev. 1:1). In the New Testament world, vast numbers of people were owned by others. History shows us as many as one-third of the population of Italy, and one in five across the Roman Empire were slaves. Slavery was a fixed and accepted part of that society, and for Paul it presented him with a ready analogy to the Christian life. Christians are those who see Christ as their heavenly Master (Col. 4:1). Christians are those who are bought and owned by Christ in an act of redemption (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Christians are those who willingly submit their lives in the doing of another’s will (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 5:15-17). In Pauline theology, Christianity is not about adding Jesus to our life, it is about the complete surrendering and submitting of our mind, heart, and will to Christ as Master and Lord. Plainly stated, to be a Christian is to be Christ’s slave.
If we are to get to that place of declaring ourselves, like Bill Bright, “from this day forward as a slave of Jesus Christ,” three truths will motivate us. First, the status and character of the Master Himself. Our Master came from Heaven, resides in Heaven and rules from Heaven (Eph. 6:9). The higher the status of the master, the more prestige the slave enjoys. For the Christian serving Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, it is an unparalleled honor. Second, the cost involved in our redemption. The Church has been bought by the blood of God by means of the incarnate Son (Acts 20:28). Heaven gave its best to redeem us from the slave market of sin, and make us Christ’s willing slaves. Therefore we must give our best selves to Christ. Third, the exemplary servitude of our Lord Himself. Christ voluntarily made Himself a slave to the will of God, and became obedient to a death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-7). As Augustine wrote memorably, “You would perhaps be ashamed to imitate a lowly man; then at least imitate a lowly God.”
Let God make you a captive, for only then will you be free!