Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bound Freedom

Pastor Ed led our staff devotional yesterday, choosing to think through 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. His insights have stayed with me all day, night, and this morning. First, the text:

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings

I've always loved this passage and taken great solace in its inspiration. Sadly, as Pastor Ed shared his heart, it became clear that I have missed the mark. He brought up how easy it is to focus on the freedom and individuality of our faith, especially in today's world, that we skip over verse 19. Not intentionally, but in our entire thought processes, and for some, our theology. Paul comments on his slavery to everyone, a practice that I haven't lived out.

When Paul states that he's a slave to everyone, he's doing so by choice, meaning he's a bondservant to those of this world. That's big. By way of example in life and deed, he's demonstrating that while yes, freedom in Christ is amazing, it's gotta come in the midst of bondage, exactly what I fight so hard against. You see, I like my rights, and I like fairness, neither of which fit within the bounds of loving others as myself, or being a slave to others.

Being a slave, or bondservant does not mean that I'm to be a doormat. It's much more exciting than that. It means that whether I like it or not, I'm going to temper my freedoms within the framework of the most effective ways to love and serve others. And that's the rub. I like others, and I really do like serving them. But it's usually done in ways that are most comfortable, easiest and most convenient, FOR ME.

Freedom through bondage. Pretty big stuff.



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