I thought of you when I read this quote from A Better Freedom: Finding Life as Slaves of Christ by Michael Card –
WHEN WE ARE FREED FROM OUR OLD SLAVERY to the world and bound over as slaves to Christ, an exchange occurs. As we are liberated from all those things that enslaved us, we discover a new, better freedom that takes their place. When we are freed from the tyranny of self we discover a new freedom to enter redemptively into the lives of others. When we are set free from the bondage of the fear of death through the letting go of our lives, we experience a new freedom to live fully and fearlessly for our new Master. The moment Jesus sets us “free from,” he also makes us “free to.”
No one explores this transformation more completely than Paul, because he had himself been set free from slavery to sin, discovering in the process that he had become free to live as a slave to righteousness (Romans 7:21-25; Galatians 3:23).
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18 NIV)
Part of what Frederick Douglass referred to as the “gross fraud” of slavery was the use of freedom against the slaves. This was particularly true of holidays when slave owners actually encouraged heavy drinking. Later, as the slaves were suffering the effects of what we benignly refer to as a “hangover” but what is more accurately called “alcohol poisoning,” Douglass says they were encouraged to believe “this is what freedom is like.” He concluded that the slave owners were trying to “disgust their slaves with freedom.” Some decided afterward that they would rather be slaves to their masters than slaves to rum. These unfortunate slaves had come to understand what Peter says, ”You are a slave to whatever controls you” (2 Peter 2:19 NLT).
In Romans 6:16, Paul clearly sets forth the only choices we have based on the premise that we are slaves to whatever or whoever owns us. The choice for Paul is not between slavery and freedom, but rather, whose slave will you be? The world’s or Christ’s? If you have been set free from sin by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus then you have been freed to become a slave to righteousness. “Slaves of righteousness” is simply another title for “disciples.” There is no other choice for the disciple but to take up the cross. There is no other choice but total submission to his lordship, his mastery, over every area of our lives. Being a disciple, being a slave, means giving up choices.
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