Posts Tagged ‘slave’

Peter echoes Paul in Romans 6:16a, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey. . . ” In both cases, the slavery is chosen. We agree to the terms. We enter willingly. We accede.

II Peter 2:19
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

Who are my slave masters? I have turned myself over to a number of masters: excess foods, a loose tongue, self-deceptions, self-promoting ambitions, and cynical judgments, just to name a few. I am not alone.

The stupidity of it all is that I know someone who is in the business of setting people free.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me [Christ Jesus],
because he [God] has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, . . .

[Luke 4:18]

Why am I still oppressed by my own habits and behaviors? Why do I allow these wars to continue? It could be worse, I know, I could be a drug addict, an alcoholic, or sexually promiscuous. Instead, I am being nickeled and dimed to death. I am allowing the Lilliputians to restrain me.

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In our 3-D world, the Devil (I know, I know, that label is “oh so old-fashioned”) has the power of death and as a result, the ability to cultivate a fear of death. If I succumb to that fear, I am enslaved by it. The Christ mission broke death-power and its sidekick, fear.

Hebrews 2:14-15
Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Christ] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

As long as we fear death, audacious faith is more difficult to grasp and hold and act upon.

Supposedly, the Christian norm has been to look forward to heaven, that eternal reward promised when we die. And yet, there are few who rejoice when a loved one perishes, few who can face their own end without navigating the stages of dying and grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and only, at the last, acceptance. Christian or no, most of us still fear the unknown of body death.

I think it has to do with a bit of tenuousness in the faith journey. If I put all my faith eggs in a basket and actually pray/expect a miracle, what if . . . what if . . . it doesn’t happen? If I put my faith on the line like that, won’t it break? If I am disappointed again and again, won’t my faith suffer? Better to be safe and secure and lukewarm. Not.

No surprise here . . . I don’t exercise my faith in the majors much: you know what I mean, things like raising the dead, healing the terminally ill, bringing sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and so forth. I fear the death of my faith. And so, the “Devil” wins again.

The Devil is not a man but an entity. We can no more understand what/who the Devil is than we can understand the transfigured Christ. To say the Devil is an “angel of light” [II Corinthians 11:14] on one hand and a fallen angel [Isaiah 14:12, Luke 10:18] on the other isn’t much help either.

We live in a world of balancing opposites like night and day, darkness and light, yin and yang etc. But the most potent set of opposites are love and fear. That’s right, the opposite of love is fear, not hate (which is merely a subset of fear). If I want to do battle against fear, that includes the fear of anything–including death, I must enfold, exude, swell, manifest, embrace, share, and trust the power of love. I’m thinking that miracles, birthed by the Holy Spirit, must be an outgrowth of this powerful and singular energy.

“[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” [Ephesians 3:19, Amplified]

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” [I John 4:8]

I am no longer a slave to fear by the authority and work of the Christ. Isn’t it time I stopped acting like one?

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Does it matter–our genealogy? our heritage? our family line? In scripture, it’s recorded in many ways as quite significant, from the “begats” in Matthew to the repetitive list of kings and their fathers and their fathers. Am I a child of the promise, a child of the free woman?

Galatians 4:31
Therefore, brothers [and sisters], we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Paul goes into a longish discussion of the “figurative” nature of Hagar (the slave woman) and Sarah (the free), who bore children, one “naturally” and the other as the result of a God-promise and power of the Spirit (a supernatural birth). The slave child (and subsequent generations) is born to a time and place in history, while the implication is that the child (and following generations) is of a “new Jerusalem,” a place out of time.

Despite the fact that Sarah and Abraham are usually considered the “father and mother” of the Jews (who we know followed the law), now the focus is on the next step when the Abrahamic children come into their true inheritance. The long-awaited Messiah was part of the promise, the miracle of Isaac. Christ too was born supernaturally. (Isaac was born from an old woman’s barren womb and Jesus from a very young woman’s virginal womb.)

And just so, because I have accepted that same long-promised Messiah as my Messiah too, I become a child of the free woman, the metaphysical, the kingdom of God. I now have a different genealogy than I did before. This is a truer meaning of “new creation.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [II Corinthians 5:17]

I’m not living in this freedom really. It’s positional only, not internalized. It’s head knowledge, not heart knowledge.

It’s like I’m so close to really understanding the enormity of this truth but not quite. It’s a thought butterfly flitting around my head. I can’t quite grab hold of it. But someday I will. And when I do, I will be changed.

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Our culture recoils at the word “slave.” Our corporate guilt over the many peoples we have enslaved compels us to resist. As a result, we overlook our own “state of enslavement.”

Romans 6:16
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am still a slave to the wrong voice in my heart. I listen more often than I should to the voice that says, “Oh, what the heck! Why not?” or “Might as well… ” or “Who will know?” This voice gives me permission to indulge myself by eating too much or wasting time in front of the television or daydreaming myself into discontentment about my life. This voice would encourage me to have an affair or get a divorce. This voice is sarcastic and mocking. This voice is relentless.

The slavery begins when I listen. The slavery intensifies when I act. The slavery becomes a yoke around my neck over time.

But the Spirit carries the sword of truth and can slash through that yoke. The Spirit of Christ is my champion. There is only one hitch: the Spirit is also a Master, a benevolent Master, if I choose to follow, believe and confess.

“Obedience” is really a form of confession. To be a slave to confession is a powerful and transformative process. I am not very good at obeying because I keep making mistakes. But anyone can be good at confessing and as the breath of forgiveness and grace blows over me, I grow strong enough to step away from sin, to close my inner ear to that other voice, to turn toward the light.

I can be a slave to confession.

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