Some time back, a sparrow found its way into our apartment. Looking back, it was quite comical how we reacted. Of course, our intent was to try and get this little bird back outside to freedom, but time after time our attempts fell short as we wove our arms wildly, bobbing and weaving so as not to be attacked by the bird while trying to free it. To anyone looking in the windows, we must have looked like a family possessed (all the worse considering we were seminarians at the time).
During our episode, this small frightened bird would continually bang against windows and fly from lamp to couch to light fixture unaware that the open door was its way out of its dilemma. Eventually, it became too weak even to move and we were able to catch and release it back outside. It wasn’t long and it regained enough strength to fly off. Hopefully it had learned a lesson through its short bout with terror.
Later, I used this illustration to make a point about slavery, the kind of slavery we all force ourselves into in one way or another. The kind of slavery that we walk into willingly when we depend on the things of the world to provide for us our liberty. The kind of slavery that ignores the path to freedom because of selfish ambition.
Some hope to find freedom from stress through drugs and alcohol but find themselves slaves to addiction. Some hope working more hours will find them financial freedom, but they instead become slaves to their jobs. Still others hope against hope that the government will bring them freedom through programs only to find out that its easy to become a slave to those same programs.
What too many people bypass is the only true freedom that can be found, the freedom we have gained through Christ. Galatians 5:1 puts it plainly saying, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
The slavery Paul is speaking about here is the slavery found in the false promises of the world. This is the slavery that Christ came to save us from, a slavery of our own making based on worldly law and unreachable goals.
He said in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The good news is that Christ came so that we could be free from the shackles of sin and death that once held us captive. He came to free us from the harsh requirements of the law by fulfilling the law for us. He died so that we might be free from the slavery of unrealized potential by showing us a better way.
Every kind of earthly slavery is evil because it robs those who are in slavery from the freedom that God has willed them to have in their lives. Instead, God wishes us to, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
If one is to be a slave, it should only be to Christ. As slaves to Christ, we gain freedom instead of losing it. As slaves to Christ, we follow the path to salvation in service to the one who came to save us. As slaves to Christ, we become His mouthpieces to the world. His is the only kind of slavery that leads to freedom because it is as slaves to Christ that we are able to shed the restraints of the world for everlasting peace.
Other things hold us into slavery that are not of our own making like disability and sickness, but even these can be given to Christ so that a new kind of freedom might be realized.
If you find yourself under the thumb of worldly slavery, count on Christ to bring you the freedom you search for. In Jesus Christ you will come to know what it feels like to have the shackles removed and the burdens lifted. It might not happen overnight, but with trust in Christ, He will lead you to fields of freedom where slavery is as much a part of your past as the curse of sin and death. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive us for bowing under the yoke of slavery and help us to free ourselves for Your service. Lead us to understand the path we must take so that slavery no longer overtakes us. Amen.