Saturday, October 17, 2009

Liberty or Death

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

-- 1 Corinthians 9:19

What better symbolizes our nation and its ideals of justice and freedom than the Statue of Liberty? Constructed in France, disassembled and then shipped to New York in 214 crates, “Lady Liberty” was re-assembled and later officially dedicated in October 1886. Since then, the statue has inspired millions around the world to experience freedom by immigrating to the United States and escaping the hardships or persecutions they faced in their mother countries.

Today, Americans enjoy countless rights and privileges protected through federal, state and local laws. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution even guarantees our freedom to worship God as we see fit. But if we look at things through the upside down way of Jesus, no one (of any nationality) has any real freedom at all. The truth is that we’re all slaves!

Regardless of what’s written in our Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, everyone without exception is a slave to someone or something. They might not have literal chains around their ankles. But they still lack God’s perspective of true freedom. As Jesus put it so bluntly, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

This sin represents slavery to the world’s values. And it comes in many forms. It might be slavery to money and possessions, pleasures, fame, a career… or even to religion itself. But whatever form it takes, the sin boils down to substituting false, manmade gods for the One and Only True Creator.

Christ-followers are also slaves. But the big difference is that they willingly choose to give up the temporary things of this world for the true freedom gained from an eternal relationship with Jesus.

“Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey,” asked the Apostle Paul, “whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Paul shows that our choice is one of liberty or death; to follow Jesus or to follow sin.

Maybe this choice isn’t as hard as it seems. The fact is that none of our earthly possessions is really ours or can be counted on to last. We can lose our jobs unexpectedly through layoffs or “downsizing,” and our homes and property through a natural or manmade disaster -- or even foreclosure. Serious health issues can arise at any time. And let’s face it: the mortality rate for everyone is 100 percent. No one gets out of here alive.

The fact is that we WILL lose it all -- one way or the other. And unfortunately, most people choose to do so through their slavery to sin. But there is a far better and much more satisfying choice: becoming a lifelong slave of a very kind master by accepting Jesus’ offer of salvation.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” He invites us. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

The choice is yours.

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