Thinking about enslaved Christians …
I’m thinking about Christians today – American Christians in particular.
Safe and secure so far as eternity is concerned, but not living free. Entangled, hobbled and held captive by things our Lord and Master would have us avoid.
- I know some handcuffed by longstanding anger, the need to control, afraid if they loosen their stanglehold on life it’ll get away from them and they’ll never get what they deserve out of life. In the process they strangle the life out of life itself.
- I know some who refuse to forgive, choosing instead to let bitterness govern their lives, causing them cross the street or go down a different aisle in the store to avoid someone they see. Stirring them up in silence everytime they remember something – something from before that has them in bondage now.
- Friends unable to live freely because lender-promises of freedom have left them anything but free. We thought we could – so we did – and now we can’t. It’s gone before I even bring it home. My family and I are slaves to the plastic I carry in my wallet.
- Habits so deeply engrained we think there’s no use to even try to try.
- People living the tragedy of Romans 7 – knowing the right thing to do, but being unable to do it.
- Desire out of control, resulting in that helpless, hopeless sense of being in a hole. William Blake said “Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” I suppose if you’re a novelist or romance writer that could be good news; you can write to those ends. But if you’re trying to live above it all, that thought multiplies the misery of possible defeat. If you’ve succumbed, you feel small and powerless; weaker than your own desire.
- Worry’s tentacles tangled up in absolutely everything, stealing peace. Sleep. And hope.
The enemy chortles off to the side (my kids like to kid me about the word “chortle” ) having rendered us captive — to something. Anything’s fine, just so we’re not free. While the Savior of our souls looks and waits for us to reach toward Him — “Reach to me, child, take My hand. Let go of that. Give it to Me – or drop it – and take hold of Me. You don’t have to stay here.”
Galatians 5.1 offers hope: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burneded again by a yoke of slavery. Paul was writing to a specific concern but the principle has broad application.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”, Peter wrote (1 Pt 5.7) and we usually stop there. It makes for easier memorizing. But he goes on to warn of the enemy in verse 8 and encourages us in verse 9 to resist him and stand firm. Why? Because our brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Really? I’m not alone? Not at all. What you’re facing feels unique, tailor-made to defeat you, but it’s from the tool pouch the enemy has been using for centuries. It’s “common” Paul said (1 Cor. 10.13) It comes with a way out. Every time.
I heard something recently I hope I remember long enough to share with friends through the years. The enemy lies and promises all kinds of pleasure and reward up ahead, but the enjoyment you experience right-here right-now is all there is. When that guy looks into the camera and grins “It doesn’t get any better than this” he really is telling the truth. It doesn’t. This is all the enjoyment there is. It’s downhill from here.
Our Lord, on the other hand, tells us the truth. Life may be difficult right-here right-now, but He’s with us. We’ll suffer with him, and for Him, but as we yield to Him, live as He asks (“in compliance” they say in manufacturing), the rewards INcrease, right on into eternity. Major difference!
Break free! Turn loose of whatever it is you’re clutching and let it fall. Maybe it’ll break!
Take the Master’s hand – He’s stronger than you are. He won’t hurt you. He died so you could be free. Live free. Genuinely free! Forever!