Bread – Slavery

June 30, 2014


Readings for Monday, June 30, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Num. 22:1-21; Rom. 6:12-23; Matt. 21:12-22; Psalm 106

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When we speak of slavery in our civic discourse, it is with negativity, because we have seen what man’s oppression of man through slavery does. In this context, slavery is involuntary servitude, where I am forced by another of greater power (police power, economic power, caste power, etc.) to serve them against my will.

But there is another form of slavery. This is slavery by choice, a place where I willingly subject myself to the objectives of another.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans in our readings today, he reminds us that we are always in some form of bondage, some form of slavery, to someone or something. If we crave alcohol, we are slaves to drink. If we need men’s approval for our self-esteem, we are slave to those people whose approval we desire. If we submit ourselves to pornography, we are slaves to the producers of filth.

Paul puts it this way: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions…Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness…But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:12,16-18, 22-23

In simple translation, we are slaves to something or someone. If we are slaves to the world, to sin, we will die. If we are slaves to God (evidenced by obedience to righteousness), we will live. In either event we are slaves; however, the outcome of our slavery is different depending upon who or what we yoke ourselves to.

In our modern culture of individualism, liberty, and free choice, the idea that we are slaves does not sit well. In fact, it is an obnoxious concept.

And yet, think about it. If the most important people in our lives are our family, we are slave to our family. If our boss is the most important person in the world to us because he or she holds our paycheck, we are slave to our boss or to the work or both. If we indulge our sexual passions or eat to an extreme, we are slaves to those desires. If we are an actor and receive our positive feedback from the crowds, we are slave to the crowds, forever doing what pleases them. If we believe in Allah, we are slave to him. If we believe in Christ, we are slave to Him.

Recognizing this, the question is never “will we be a slave?” but “who or what will we be a slave to?”

This is the decision put before us by Paul. Will you be a slave to sin or to God? Will you obey your passions or God’s commandments? Will you look to the mirror or to our significant others for approval, or will we seek approval from God?

Why does the question matter? Well, Paul summarizes the answer in the end of our reading from Romans today. Slavery to sin leads to death; slavery to Jesus Christ leads to life.

To whom or to what are you slave?

The answer matters.

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© 2014 GBF

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