God placed it deep in our hearts to long for freedom. I dearly loved the movie Braveheart and the tremendous dedication to freedom that is shown. In our own country, think of the amazing sacrifice so many people made to gain freedom that was offered here. In the early days of our history, people risked their lives to travel by boat over the ocean to start life over with nothing but dreams and the freedom to build ones life and future on the beliefs they held sacred. Even today, thousands of people risk their lives each year trying to have the freedom that we tend to take for granted.
Slavery is a horrible thing. When one person treats another person as though they were simply property to be used and abused for their own pleasure or prosperity it lowers the value and virtue of both people. When we hear or read of people capturing, kidnapping or taking young girls (and sometimes boys) to sell or make into sex slaves in some other country or some place where they won’t be recognized it is horrendous. It is difficult for me to just imagine how depraved a person’s heart has to be for them to take an innocent young girl and force her into prostitution, with lies, drugs and fear. It certainly demonstrates the depth to which sin can take a person. It also demonstrates the evil of Satan that he wants nothing for humans that is good. He will use the pictures of innocence and beauty to produce immoral, depraved and godless actions in others.
It is also disturbing to see people turning to different forms of slavery on a volunteer basis. If you’ve ever spent time trying to help a person who has become addicted to some drug, such as Meth, Cocaine or heroin it is obvious they are slaves to the drug. By far the drug that takes more into slavery than any other is alcohol. I know that most of those enslaved by alcohol don’t believe they are. I’ve been told a thousand times at least, “I can quit anytime I want to.” Yet, they don’t ever seem to want to even when it cost them their family, their jobs, their home, their car and their freedom. Even as they watch their reputation go down the drain they are still maintaining that they can quit. It is just that they enjoy the taste or how it makes them feel. The people in the church at Corinth were making the claim that they had the right to do anything to which Paul responded, “Yes, but I will not be brought under the power of anything.” When Peter described people who had become Christians going back into the ways of the world in 2 Peter 2:20-22 he said, “If after you have escaped the corruption that is in the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter state is worse than the first and it would have been better for you to have never known the way of righteousness than after you have known it to turn again to the way of corruption.” No wonder Paul warned Timothy that if he would be a good soldier of Jesus Christ he needed to refuse to become entangled in the affairs of this world.
Do you remember when Jesus said to the people that if they continued in his word they would be real disciples of his and they would know the truth and the truth would make them free? The response of these Jews was, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been enslaved to anyone.” It makes you wonder what they had been drinking. They as a people had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. They were slaves in Babylon for 70 years. They had been captured by Rome and before that Greece. Jesus told them that anyone who was living in sin was a slave to sin. If they would come to Christ they could become free indeed. But Satan was successful in convincing them that slavery to him was freedom.
Is slavery ever a good thing? Paul obviously believed it could be. Listen to his words from I Corinthians 9. Though I am free from all, I have made myself the slave of all that I might be able to gain the more. To the Jews I became a Jew that I might win the Jews. To those that are under the law as under the law that I might gain those under the law. To those who are without law, as without law that I might gain those without law. To the weak I became weak that I might gain the weak. I’ve become all things to all people that I might by all means save some.
His was certainly a volunteer slave. He had volunteered as a slave to Jesus and called himself a ‘Bond servant” to him. I’ve often puzzled over Paul’s sending Onesimus back to his slave owner Philemon as described in the short book of Philemon. Onesimus was a runaway slave that had ended up in prison in Rome along with Paul. There Paul had taught him the gospel of Christ and he had been saved from his old life of sin. He told Philemon he wanted to keep him there with him because he refreshed him and was his son in the faith. But he chose to send him back to Philemon. Paul did encourage Philemon to take anything Onesimus owed him and put it on his account and to receive him back, no longer as a slave but as a brother in Christ. But why send him back at all? Philemon was a brother in Christ. He had blessed Paul’s life. Paul had stayed in his home at some time. But most likely it was the reality that when there is wrong in our life and we turn from the old sin to God, we ought to try to make as many things right with others as we can. There are always lots of things that we can’t undo or make right. But we can try and in doing so we show the heart of the Lord.
Freedom is wonderful. But even freedom can be abused and turned into something awful. Be free! Live free! Don’t enslave others. Freely choose to be a slave to others so that you may gain some for Christ and spiritual freedom for them.