We do our best to keep things open-ended. We try hard to keep all options open. We don’t RSVP to the party too early lest something better comes along. And we do all this in order to remain free.
Or, so we think.
Sadly, this loose-ended, unattached freedom proves to be its own slavery. For in refusing to commit to relationships, we’re ensnared by loneliness. In always remaining open to the better offer, we’re trapped by anxiety. And whenever a better offer doesn’t pan out the way we hoped (and that will happen time and again), we spiral into depression. Isn’t it true that sometimes our best attempts at freedom turn into the worst kinds of captivity?
It’s actually through serving that we find freedom, and we’re all serving someone or some thing. Bob Dylan understood this, as the lyrics from his 1979 hit, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” make clear:
You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Dylan is absolutely right. You’re gonna serve something. But whether it’s the devil or the Lord – well, that will make all the difference.
We learn in today’s reading that the truly free life of the Christian is not so much a freedom from slavery as it is a freedom to be bound to Someone in the right kind of way. Which makes sense if you think about it, for that is exactly how true love works.
When we love a friend or a spouse, we willingly restrict ourselves in service to them. We spend money on them. We carve out time to be with them. We give to them our attention and affection. We do this not because we have to, but because we want to—because we love them. Our love for them leads us into a voluntary, life-giving, joy-spreading life of service. It’s the same way with Jesus Christ, “…having been set free from sin, [we] become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18) in love for Jesus Christ.
The more we see and experience what Jesus has done for us – paying the penalty, breaking the power, and one day removing entirely the presence of sin – the more we can then return His love with love that willingly renders us “slaves of God” (Romans 6:22).
Brothers, take in the love of Christ for you today. Let His love free you to such a degree that you willingly and joyfully enslave yourself to God and His righteousness all the days of your life.
Written by Nate Shurden