Slave or Free?
'Freedom in Jesus looks like slavery to the world, and indeed it is slavery to God and to righteousness, and in following Christ, if need be, even to death, which brings the final freedom, especially at the resurrection.'
This is a quote from Ted over at Jesus Community. He was responding to comments made to his post Freedom. And I think it's brilliant. What I think is important in all of this is a question that a lot of people don't even ask: What has our 'freedom' cost us? In other words, we may think we are free, but we are enslaved by that very thing we are free to do. Alcohol is a perfect example of that. We are free to choose to drink or not to drink. That is one of the 'rights' we have living as free people in the USA (as well as other countries). But at what cost? There are some people who can't drink alcohol. They become addicts. But, by god, they freely chose to drink! It is their 'god given right' to drink! But, again, at what cost? Alcoholics lose almost everything -- jobs, family, health, and sometimes the lives of others and sometimes even their own lives. Is that worth it? Some people say 'yes'. But others would heartily say 'no'. So that's the rub.
Following Jesus is all about laying aside our (supposed) freedom and becoming a willing slave. Did you catch that? We are slaves one way or the other. We will be forced to be slaves of something (alcohol, sex, drugs, work, country, 'freedom', etc.) or someone (usually ourselves) or we can choose to be slaves of Jesus. And in choosing Jesus we are expected to put our loyalty to Jesus before everything else -- spouse, family, friends, community, country, etc. Everything must be considered to be a steaming pile of...loss...when evaluating following Jesus or not. As Ted states in the post and comments, we are expected to 'cut off' whatever won't conform. This is a brutal thing we are talking about here. Following Jesus -- truly, honestly -- is not for the weak.
Something that I have brought up in the Men's Bible Study group at church is the very 'either/or' picture painted in the Bible. It seems over and over again, there are only two sides. Take our Gospel reading for this week, Luke 16.1-13. Jesus said, 'No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other' (v. 13). Notice that it is so 'black and white' in this section. We can't serve personal freedom and Jesus. We will 'hate one and love the other'...we will 'be devoted to one and despise the other.' I understand that Jesus is talking about money in the story but I think the application is far reaching. It shows that people are enslaved. Even 'free' people. The question is, who is the master? Is it ourselves or is it Jesus? That, to me, is the biggest obstacle for people, not only today, in this culture, but for all time. We are commanded to conform to Jesus. To be like him. And he was all about self-sacrifice. People don't like that. People want to be able to (supposedly) do what they want when they want it. But that is a smokescreen. It's a flat out lie. We have never been able to just do what we want. We are, by our very natures as created beings, servants. We will always serve someone or something. Jesus is calling people to serve him instead of all the 'posers' out there. And the biggest poser of them all is freedom.
Peace be with you.