Last year, I preached a stewardship sermon that focused on what I consider to be self-inflicted sale into slavery: debt. It was a stewardship sermon, so being limited in scope made sense, but as I read the Romans lesson for Sunday, I am reminded of the hundreds, if not thousands, of ways human beings routinely sell themselves back into slavery.
Paul’s language is beautiful, but it highlights our failures in such a way that most days, I’d rather not read it. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ– if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” In his admonition against a spirit of slavery, Paul names only one example of what slavery does to us, but it is the universal example, and in many ways to root of all our problems.
Fear that there isn’t enough money in the bank causes us to sell ourselves into slavery to our creditors. Fear that we aren’t going to be loved causes us to strive after unhealthy relationships and act in unproductive ways. Fear that there aren’t enough resources to go around causes us to hoard for ourselves and to ignore the needs of others. Fear that God couldn’t possibly love us causes us to listen to the lies of the adversary and continue in habitual sin, unabated.
I live in fear everyday, and based on the actions of those around me, I’m certain I’m not the only one. Paul’s words sting as I read them and remember that fear has caused me to not live into the fullness of God’s dream for me. Most days, I’d prefer to to hear it, but everyday I need to. Don’t fall back into slavery to fear, but instead, live into the fullness that comes from being an adopted child of God.