The smell of sulfur, magnesium and black powder have faded. The grills have all cooled. And for the most part the heartburn brought on by the overindulgence in charred protein has left us. But independence day often brings on so many emotions and feelings in a lot of us that continue to linger well past the “pops in the park”. With all the talk of freedom, independence (and this year the inevitable lashing out at the definition therein) I can’t help but think about what true freedom really means…or if true freedom even really exists? Merriam-Webster’s defines freedom as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”. And I suppose that for the most part this is true for those of us who live in these United States in regards toward our own operations within own homes…of course there are certain coercions and constraints in regards towards our relationships with others i.e. jail, fines, etc. But being a pastor I rarely stop with thoughts in regards toward our political systems.
Jesus is no stranger to speaking about slavery and freedom either. In fact in John 8 we even read the famous line, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” But free to what? I realize there is a freedom from the slavery of sin, but we humans are habitual creatures. We come back to the “absence of necessity, coercion or constraint” and very rarely is that the case in most of our decisions. We are usually “constrained” by one of two things…sin or the one who sets us free from it. The apostle Paul takes it one step further, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (1 Corinthians 9:19)” Paul I think understood it well; in order to be free from the tyranny and coercion of sin, he subjected himself to those whom he was seeking to disciple. His every care and concern was first for those whom he knew God loved so much that he did the same, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7 )” The word Paul uses in the Greek for servant is better translated “slave”. So Jesus made himself slave to those he came to win in order to show them what true freedom looks like.
All of a sudden the sending of the twelve makes a lot more sense. In Luke 9:2-6 we read, “and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” Maybe if we free ourselves of any independence in order to be dependent upon those who we seek to love and win in the kingdom then maybe we will finally experience true freedom…in becoming slaves.