Real Freedom

Posted: January 15, 2020 in Meditations
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You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Gotta Serve Somebody, by Bob Dylan, hit me like a ton of bricks in 1979. The poetry may be lacking, no classic Dylan metaphors, but that phrase, “you’re gonna have to serve somebody” ate me whole. Freedom and personal liberty are themes that rage in the human soul. Who is boss: the state, the individual, the devil, God? Fundamentally, do I control my own destiny and how will we define what that means? What does Patrick Henry’s vow, “Give me liberty or give me death”, mean today? “Don’t tread on me”, what circumscribes its ominous warning? The libertarian’s demand, “Your business ends at the tip of my nose”, how does it manifest itself in real life? Wars wage over these convictions of man’s soul.

The Apostle Paul opens his letter to the church at Rome with four powerful words, “Paulos doulos Christou ‘Iesou”.  Those words translate, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus”. Some translations properly render this, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.” Doulos, “slave”, is the key word that unlocks the genius of Paul’s appellation. Paul is writing, most likely from Corinth in Greece, to the church at Rome. The Roman church is primarily Gentile with a Jewish minority. The classic western mind, particularly Greek, abhors the very thought of being a slave. Aristotle and Plato celebrate the freedom of every man. “I am king of my life; I am the despot who makes the decisions for my life.” The spirit of the Greek and Roman heart ideally bows to no man. Certainly no citizen of the west would freely proclaim themselves to be a slave of anyone or anything. And the spirit of these words live on today without resolution. Why? One bedeviling reality, “it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39  Jesus leads the way to freedom with words that repel the heart of sinful man. I want what I want. I justify my feelings. I demand autonomy, I insist on personal freedom. We rail at God bound by chains we cannot see. Paul says, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” Romans 6:16  In this paradigm, the total commitment of the slave on the one hand corresponds to the total claim of the Lord on the other. We are unwilling slaves to our own nature. Jesus offers us two choices: death or life, bondage or freedom. “And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave in Christ.”  1 Corinthians 7:22  Paul spoke these words to literal slaves and free men.

When I prayed a primitive prayer at the age of 17, “God, if you’re real, please be real in my life”, I surrendered everything of me. I left nothing on the table. I wanted nothing of the chains that bound my spirit. In that moment, I found peace, I found purpose, I found home. Every one of us is created by God and for God. Grab hold of that thought. I treasure these words from Ravi Zacharias, “God has appointed you for this moment in time. Your life has particular value and distinct significance.” Seize your destiny, don’t waste another moment. Proclaim yourself a slave of Christ Jesus. In that moment, you will find real freedom. So be bold, no regrets, do the right thing. In the end, Christ is all that matters.




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