But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:22 NIV
I love oxymorons.
Learned professor. Military intelligence. Jumbo shrimp. Small crowd. Old news. Open secret. Deafening silence. Pretty ugly. Awfully good. Free slave. Freedom by submission.
Wait a minute. Where did that last come from? Freedom by submission?
You may know what I’m talking about. This is one of our distinctively Christian oxymorons. The way of freedom comes through submitting to Christ and becoming slaves of God. Is this intuitive? No way!
For years, I limited my commitment to God and Jesus. I was not willing to submit completely and unconditionally. I wanted control. I wasn’t willing to give it up. I didn’t really trust God to take care of me. In short, I was afraid. And yet complete submission is what Scripture says we must come to.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God.” James 4:7a NIV“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1a NIV“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” 1 Peter 2:16 NIV“Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” Matt. 20:26-27 NIV
According to Scripture, our true freedom comes from submitting completely to God and Jesus, becoming His slave. I rebelled against that. I was afraid of it. There were so many things that I didn’t want to give up: my lifestyle, my choices, my friendships, my will. Besides, it was contradictory. It didn’t make sense.
Then I heard a sermon comparing skiing to our relationship with Christ. In skiing, when you head into a turn, you put your weight on the downhill ski. It is not intuitive. It feels like you’ll fall down the hill. (It makes as much sense as leaning into a left hook.) But if you do it, your ski comes around easily and you make the turn. It is a step of faith, and it works. The non-intuitive works.
I also heard about a kite. Imagine if a kite could think. Imagine if a kite could reflect on its flight:
“The kite flyer is running into the wind and getting me (the kite) up into the air. The wind lifts me up higher and higher. It is glorious! Look at all the tricks I can do! But wait. That string is limiting me. It’s holding me back. The string and the flyer are keeping me from going higher still, and keeping me from going over there! If I can just cut the string, I’ll be free! I can go higher and do what I want!”
Snap. The string breaks and the kite falls. It is the tension of the string and the skill of the flyer that keeps the kite in the air. The longed-for freedom from restraint is a mirage, though oh-so-intuitive.
I am the kite.
I’m learning that the freedom I think I want isn’t really freeing. Over time, I’m working at submitting myself to Jesus, and trying to become His slave; trying to turn my will over to Him. It is a work in progress. But to my amazement, the more I submit to His will, the more freedom I experience and the more joy I find. It seems contradictory, like an oxymoron. It is not intuitive. But it does work.