i went and saw “lincoln” with my wife some months ago (EXCELLENT by the way). the focus of the movie is the passing of the 13th amendment of the constitution, which was the abolition of slavery. in our history, slaves were treated as subhuman and regarded as the property of their owners…even though they were people…made in the image of God. it occurred to me that no one likes to be in any form of captivity…we like to be free. we like to be under our own command and control. of course, control is pretty illusory…but we all like to at least have the impression of total freedom in our own lives. during the movie, i had a thought…a thought about freedom…what is it? in all of our discussions about liberty and/or freedom do we ever really stop to consider what it is? some people are not free but are still treated fairly within the confines of their captivity…yet they still long to be free… because even if treated fairly, or even treated really well, they would still not be what their hearts longed to be…free. of course, i would never try to compare the burdens and difficulties of our day to those that bore the marks of slaves in our nation’s history, so let me be very clear about the fact that i am not trying to draw that parallel. the subject just made me think very much about freedom.
we all want to be free…it’s ingrained in our dna. we want to be free from any form of bondage, be it credit card debt, prison, obligation, or servitude. as human beings who are made in the image of God, we are passionate about freedom. we all want it…but few of us really have it…or at least few of us believe we have it. i hear this substantiated all the time in statements like, “i can’t quit this job”….or…”what choice do i have?”…or similar things…all being said by citizens of the country that possibly enjoys more freedom than any other. so what does this mean? perhaps it means that even though we are free, we don’t feel as though we are.
why don’t we feel free? why do so many of us feel as if we are trapped? why do the pressures of life around us make us feel so suffocated and oppressed? perhaps it’s because, unlike the unfortunate slaves of the past, we have been able to choose whom our masters would be. and we choose things such as drugs, or sex, or indulgence, or mastercard (had to use that one)…we choose vanity, insecurity, anger, rage, or my favorite one…what others think about us.
but we can choose a different Master…One that will never oppress, suffocate, or spurn us…and as a matter of fact we find that in the spiritual songs of the slaves of old, even though their arms and legs were in chains, their souls soared to heights unspeakable. they understood freedom in ways that many in our free land today only dream about. they sang with joy and hope…and even though we can hear the travails of their lives echoing through their words…they were still free in their hearts…where the songs were…where their true Master lived…and where He will live in us…if we will let Him.
this is not simply another discussion of becoming a believer in Christ…because i know many Christians that are held captive by harsh taskmasters such as addiction, insecurity, lust, greed, to name a few. no…this is an admonition to all who would decide to make Him the Master of their lives…whether they are coming to Him for the first time or have been a believer in Him for years…because i can speak as someone that once lived under the umbrella of salvation while being chained to the burdens of sin. i have been a believer in Him for about 15 years, but can only say that He is truly the Lord and Master of my path for the past few. this doesn’t mean that i no longer fail…instead it means that when i do fail, i understand that my Master is not eager to punish…because i have a Master who knows what suffering is, and has taken more pain on my behalf than i can ever come close to comprehending. He has loved me, and bought me, and freed me…and the more i think of that….the more i refuse to leave Him. i don’t want to leave this captivity…it is the greatest liberty i have ever experienced. there is a reason that paul started off some of His letters by calling himself a “bond-slave” or a “slave” of Christ…it wasn’t because Jesus enslaves us…but because the more we understand His love and the more we experience His grace and mercy, the more we want to be enslaved to Him….chained to His side. i want Him to be in charge of my life…because truth be told…i’m an idiot on my own…and i don’t know how to make good decisions…but He does…and He does it for the glory of God and the cause of the Gospel…what higher form of existence is there…except to be in servitude to the Gospel?
i thought when i became a Christian that i may be signing up for a life of prudish boredom…a sheltered world where we smiled all the time, dressed a certain way, and called each other, “brother.” i thought i was giving up freedom in order to gain a better afterlife…and i was wrong…i have never been so free…and i have not been at all bored…nor do i tend to be prudish…and i’m not just waiting for some wonderful afterlife…because i’m living abundant life here and now…all because i am held captive by His liberty.