I suppose I’ve listened to Michael Card and John Michael Talbot more than any other Christian musicians. That may make me decidely uncool, and it certainly makes me unmitigatingly retro, but so be it. Michael Card has been a stalwart voice in Christian music and print for many, many years, and his latest book, A Better Freedom, is a wonderful example of why this is so. Card loves the Word of God, as anyone familiar with his music will attest, and this book is yet further evidence of this devotion.
The occasion for this book was Card’s joining an African American church and his hearing the members of that church pray to Jesus as “Master.” The use of that word by African Americans struck Card as fascinating and provocative and led him to study the biblical image of “slave.” Specifically, it led Card to study and think through what it means for believers to be “slaves to Christ.”
Card finds here a paradox: that it is only in slavery to Christ that we are truly free. I suppose the truthfulness of this fact is known cognitively by many of us, but what Card does by fleshing out the ancient meaning of “slave” and showing the New Testament’s approbriation of the term is add a depth of understanding that is not readily evident from just a surface reading of the text. Card employs sound exegetical and hermeneutical insights, along with fascinating historical evidence, to make the case that “slavery” was a powerful metaphor for Christian life in the early church. This would have struck the inhabitants of the first century Roman Empire (an Empire teeming with slaves) as scandalous and well-nigh unbelievable. But, of course, Christ redeems the image of slave by becoming one Himself. As such, a term of derision is baptized and emerges as a paradoxical badge of honor.
There are life-changing insights in this book. The overall impact is one of awe at the radical transformation that Christ brings to life. I daresay that after reading this book one will never speak of the “freedom of the Christian” without feeling the awesome wonder of that idea: that we who were slaves have been set free by becoming slaves to Christ. This slavery is “a better freedom.”
Get this book. It’s a wonderful devotional text that will encourage you, enlighten you, and help you in your journey with Jesus. Thank you Michael Card!