I know this will be a hard entry to swallow, but I just want to get it out there.
Today we celebrate Independence Day! For a country that has been colonized three times, it is a big deal to commemorate the very moment we liberated ourselves from foreign captivity. We are physically free as a nation – free to think, speak, feel – but are we internally free as individual beings? Or are we in bondage to our own human flesh? These carnal desires control our innermost thoughts and emotions that other people will never know; but God knows. We can try so hard to exhibit a perfect life on social media, but we can never hide ourselves from the Lord.
So are we truly free? Can we be who we are without guilt or fear?
The better question I think we should ask is, what are we a slave to?
Because as long as we are living in this world, we will always be subject to something – wealth, relationships, career, friends – and that something will have utmost control, one way or another. These worldly things leave us unstable and insecure if we feed on them for this society is ever-changing and it is impossible to keep up with it. But one thing never changes, our security in Christ, if we choose Him.
In modern day Christianity, it is almost offensive to use the word “slave” because churches emphasize heavily on liberation, the “you are free to be you!” mentality – God wants a good life for you; He loves you unconditionally and He wants you to live your best life ever. It is always about us, is it? We even have gospel tracks for that. It explains how God loves you and wants you to have a personal relationship with Him. But what does it mean to have a personal relationship with the Lord? What is our relationship with Christ?
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”(Matthew 6:26, ESV)
“For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.”(1 Corinthians 7:22-23, ESV)
Bondservant came from the greek word, doulos (pronounced doo’-los)
from 1210; a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency):–bond(-man), servant.
There is always a choice. There is no such thing as absolute freedom.
With this in mind, the gospel is not so much an invitation to having a personal relationship with Christ – it is an invitation to freedom from sin and becoming a slave to Him. Changes everything right? If we select the Lord over the world, He is not like an ordinary acquaintance to whom we have an option whether or not we want to follow Him today and neglect Him tomorrow; if we give our lives to Him wholeheartedly, then we choose to submit to Him unconditionally.
Someone once told me that she thinks she can do whatever immoral thing she can think of because she believes God wants her to be happy. If God loves her, she has a choice to be carefree. How many times have we used this excuse? Even I did. It may seem like this belief makes life less complicated, until we are faced with the consequences of our decision.
We have abused the concept of freedom by inculcating certain attributes to God to fit our needs. But God is a holy and just God, as He is also merciful and He will not tolerate the days and months that we choose to be willfully sinful. He cannot accept it because He is perfect. If He has set us free from sin, we must choose to live a life that is unbound to it.
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, ESV).
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16, ESV).
We are unchained, Paul says, but if we are truly in Christ and we have accepted the grace that we do not deserve, we have been transformed and are at liberty to do God’s will. We will never be faultless as He is, but our desire will ultimately be geared towards such flawlessness.
“Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)
On a day such as this, I praise the Lord that I am independent as a Filipino citizen, but more than that, I revel in my freedom from sin and rejoice in Christ’s ownership of my life.