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 iconic monument has inspired millions around the world to taste freedom and escape the hardships and persecutions they faced in their mother countries.
Americans today 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 true freedom. The truth is that we're all slaves!
Regardless of what's written in our Bill of Rights and 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 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, pleasure, fame, a career...or even religion. But whatever form it takes, sin boils down to substituting false man-made gods for the One and Only True Creator.
Christ-followers are also slaves. But the big difference is that they willingly choose to abandon themselves in exchange 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's question reveals that our choice is one of liberty or death; to follow Jesus or to follow sin.
That's a tough decision for many. But 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 so-called downsizing, and our homes and property through a natural or man-made 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 day will come when we WILL lose it all, one way or the other. And unfortunately, many people will experience it through their slavery to sin. But there's a far better and much more satisfying alternative: becoming the slave of a very kind Master by accepting Jesus' offer of eternal life and 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."
We're all slaves to one master or another...but the choice is ours: Liberty or Death.