How do you stop a king or queen from ruling the jungle? You remove them from their natural environment, cage them to limit their movement, and make them a sideshow before they can realize what they were born to do.
In John 8, Jesus exposes the deception placed around the bondage of sin and He introduces the cost of freedom.
“Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” —John 8:34-36
By knowing the truth about who we are and who Christ is, we can be set free. But we can’t just accept this as head knowledge, we need to know this as an intimate experience. It isn’t until we go through the wilderness—the process of deliverance from our sins—that we (just like the Israelite slaves) become free.
When we recognize ourselves not as a slave but as an unrestrained son or daughter of God, we can then accept the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that come with that identity. But why do we often end up fighting against the thought of being free even though this freedom has become our birthright?
It’s as if we are in our own jail cell with the door wide open and the keys in our hand but we do nothing. This is the position of every believer once Christ comes into their life; we are free from our bondage and invited to step out into a new life. And with the keys in hand, we also have the ability to let others be free, so why wouldn’t we live in that freedom and share it with everyone we can?
Because it’s easier to let someone else create the routine than to take responsibility to do what we are called to do. With Christ in us, we have the ability to respond though we’re often tempted to shrink back because that responsibility is hard! Sometimes it would just be easier to live in bondage than to step into the new birth that God has given each one of us.
Whether it’s in sports, school, family, or life, God is constantly challenging us to grow up. We may go through seasons of bondage or personal wilderness but in Christ we are always in a season of freedom. We need to step out of our slave mentality—however you used to think—and learn how to live free indeed! The Israelites had been in slavery for 400 years and considered this title to be part of their DNA—it was their identity. However, God lead them out of this lifestyle to renew their minds and give them a new identity. But even then they struggled to trust God and they took 40 years to do what could have been done in 40 days. Instead of trusting in God and walking in a straight line towards His call, they began walking in circles, fearful to leave what they knew.
There’s a famous quote from Spiderman that says, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but Christ said it first when He spoke the words:
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” —Luke 12:48
For many pro football players, the NFL can feel like a form of slavery if they are not renewing their mind in Christ. The resources and ability that they have actually become a bondage if they don’t recognize what they are to be used for. Statistics show us that 70% of NFL players are broke and divorced only three years after retirement. If we haven’t learned how to be free with what we’ve been ability that we’ve been entrusted with, we will continue wandering in the wilderness for far too long.
Sometimes we will justify our actions or lack of actions with the old adage, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” but the reality is that what you don’t overcome, you will pass on. Just as the Israelites passed on their slave mentality to their children’s children, the way we think and act will be passed down to those who are under our influence. The sin and bondage we let control us will not stop with us.
We are called to work out our faith with fear and trembling. It’s our role—our birthright—to step out of slavery and into the freedom of Christ, responding to the ability that He’s given us. You hold the keys, what will you do with them?
—Pastor Ted Winsley, chaplain of the Philadelphia Eagles
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