"For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant." (1 Cor. 7:22)
The great news that Christianity daily announces to the world is that a thing is evaluated at its full value not according to its external appearance, but by its essence. Evaluate things not according to its external appearance, but by its essence. Evaluate things not according to their color and shape but according to their meaning. Evaluate a man not by his position and property but by his heart - in which his feelings, his reason and his will are united.
According to this (which is always a new teaching for the world), he who is outwardly enslaved is not a slave, and he who possesses outward physical freedom is not free. According to worldly understanding, a slave is one who enjoys the world the least, and a free man is one who enjoys the world the most. According to Christian understanding, a slave is one who enjoys the least from the living Christ, while a free man is one who enjoys the most from the living Christ.
Further, according to worldly understanding, a slave is one who carries out his own will less frequently and the will of others more frequently, while a free man is one who carries out own will more often and the will of others less often. However, according to Christian understanding, a slave is one who carries out his own will more often and the will of God less often, while a free man is one who carries out the will of God more frequently and his own will less frequently. To be a slave of the Lord is the only true and worthy freedom of man - and to be a slave to the world and to one's self, to sin and vice, is the only fatal slavery.
A man might think of kings on their thrones: are there any men on earth more free? Yet, many kings were the most base and the most unworthy slaves of the earth. Of shackled Christians in the dungeons, a man might think: are there any slaves on earth more miserable? However, the Christian martyrs in the prisons felt like free men, and they were filled with spiritual joy! They chanted Psalms and raised up prayers of gratitude to God. Freedom that is tied to grief and sorrow is not freedom, but slavery. Only freedom in Christ is tied to unspeakable joy. Lasting joy is the mark of true freedom.
O Lord Jesus, the only Good Lord, Who grantest us freedom when Thou bindest us more strongly to Thyself, makes us Thy slaves as soon as possible, that we would cease to be slaves of cruel and unmerciful masters.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue of Ohrid, Vol. I
16 January, Homily