In Romans 6, Paul writes “Just as you once presented your members as slaves to the impurity and to the lawlessness into more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to the righteousness unto holiness… The wages of the sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord [kurios: master].”
To say, “Jesus is Lord,” is to say, “I am a slave.”
Slaves don’t choose their Master; the Master chooses the slave. So, if you do choose “The Righteousness,” as your master, “The Righteousness must be choosing you, choosing Him.”
Whatever the case, Paul seems to be saying, “You can be a slave or . . . a slave.”
But then he adds “I’m speaking this way because of the weakness of your flesh.”
Remember: Our flesh only feels its own pleasure and its own pain.
In Galatians, Paul writes, “For freedom, Christ has set us free.”
So, are we slaves or free; what’s “freedom;” who’s free, and what’s free will?
Some people say, “There are those who can never be saved, because . . . you know, ‘free-will.’”
Some people even say, “God is love and so would never violate your ‘free-will.’”
When my daughter was little, she had a strong will and definitely thought it should be a free will. We figured she’d grow up to save the world or become the dictator of some country—a despot.
One day, she felt like I had violated her free will one too many times; she began screaming “I don’t want a Daddy, I don’t want a Mommy and I don’t need a Daddy.” I looked down at her tear-stained face, my heart broke for her, and I thought “Love would never violate free will.” So, I said, “OK,” drove her to the bus station, dropped her off, and never spoke to her again—we often wonder whatever became of our five-year-old daughter Elizabeth. But you know . . . free-will.
Actually, I didn’t do that but I did say “OK.” And then I stopped talking to her. I acted as if she wasn’t there. But, of course, I was more aware of her than ever; I loved her more than ever. But she grew more miserable than ever, for I let her believe that she was free—free of me.
Free of me, and yet she was in my house, under my protection, and constantly surrounded by my love. She tried to act independent, happy, and free, but she was an “I” trapped in a prison called “me.” She was a miserable little despot. Sometimes I wonder if all of human history, my history, and your history, is like that day, Elizabeth’s day, back in 1995.
At the end of the day, I said, “I’m going to the store.” She begged to ride along. I mumbled “whatever.” We got in the car, just her and me. I paused before I turned the key. I looked at her; she looked at me. . .
She threw herself across my lap crying, “I want a Daddy; I want a Mommy; I love you, Daddy!” It was like a volcanic eruption; as if her little ego couldn’t contain the Spirit rising within her. And suddenly we were free. I was a slave to her and her to me—both slaves, both free.
Who’s free? Vladimir Putin or the man nailed to the tree?
You know, everyone violates the man on the tree (The Will of God).
Who’s free? An Astronaut untethered floating in space or a little girl dancing with her Dad?
Who’s free? The chicken leg that’s free of the chicken or the leg attached to the chicken?
Who’s free? Klan members in hoods or the children of slaves that they would hang on the tree?
Who’s free? Little boys playing superman; are they free?
It’s good that they’re not entirely free—you wouldn’t want to trust them with a nuclear arsenal.
They’re not free and yet they are free; they’re more free than Vladimir Putin, as long as they’re conscious of someone who is conscious of them—someone that loves them.
In Galatians 4 Paul writes “The heir, as long as he is a child is no different than a slave, though he is the owner of everything… And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying “Abba! Father!”
So anyway, is Vladimir Putin free?
His will is literally holding every other will in this world hostage to itself.
What does Vladimir Putin want?
He wants to make himself the Superman but doesn’t know that the Superman must make Vladimir himself.
So, what is Putin’s “offramp?” Well, it’s the same as Old Rabbi Saul’s offramp. It’s the same as your offramp and my offramp. The Man on the tree is our offramp.
And what about the man on the tree; is he free?
He’s my slave, your slave, and Vladimir’s slave. He said, “Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life for many.”
He’s slave of all and yet free of all. He said, “No one takes my life from me but I lay it down of my own accord.” And he’s happy. He said, “Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” and “My food—what energizes me—is to do the will of my father.” He’s not trying to be righteous; He is the Righteousness of God your Father.
So, Slave—he is your Master, the man you nailed to the Tree, the man who is free.
Some say that Christianity doesn’t address the issue of slavery and yet the Master of all has made himself the slave of each and all. Perhaps the world can’t see him, for we don’t see him; we’re each trying to make ourselves some “Christian” version of Vladimir Putin.
But I cannot be free until I die to my “me,” the miserable despot, “Me-sus.”
Faith in me-sus is bondage to the devil but the faith of Jesus (who is “our righteousness”) will set you free.
It will turn you into a happy slave, the Super Man, the Incarnation of Love. And Love is writing the whole story. Love will raise the dead.
Ruby was the descendent of slaves; some of her relatives must’ve actually been hung on the tree. In 1960 a federal judge ordered the desegregation of the New Orleans School District. So, every day six-year-old Ruby was escorted to school by four federal marshals, for every day a mob of angry white people would be waiting for Ruby with death threats, racial slurs… and some, even holding crosses.
Dr. Robert Coles from Harvard was assigned to meet with Ruby and was utterly mystified by Ruby, for she seemed to be so happy and so free. One day Ruby’s teacher told Ruby’s Psychologist, Dr. Coles, that on this particular morning she had observed Ruby stop and talk to the crowd.
Later, Dr. Coles asked Ruby what she had said to the crowd. And Ruby replied, “But I wasn’t talking to them. I was saying my prayer. I say it every morning and afternoon before I make my walk. This morning I forgot, so when I saw those people, I stopped and said my prayer . . . I pray for those people.”
Incredulous, Dr. Coles said, “You pray for them?”
A bit confused, little Ruby Bridges looked at Dr. Coles and responded, “Um . . . Don’t you think they need some prayin’ for?”
Don’t you think we need some praying for?
Don’t you think Vladimir Putin needs some praying for?
Don’t you think we all need to die with Jesus and rise with Jesus—no longer miserable despots but happy slaves?