By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
Through the centuries, innocent people have been degraded in unspeakable ways. Our history tells a tale of suffering. Our story is one of slavery, piracy, torture and violence.
Is this why we are murdering one another? Is this why domestic violence, incest, rape and abuse abound? Are we trapped forever in this cycle of madness? Historical Emancipation was on August 1, 1833, but are we anywhere near being free?
Do we keep each other in the chains of poverty, indebtedness, and spiritual submission? Do we jerk each other around by manipulation, superiority and intimidation? As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another. For the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." But if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other, then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another. (Galatians 5:13 GN)
Are our addictions our new masters? Does alcohol and other substances cloud our judgement, heighten our emotions and ultimately destroy our bodies? Do we worship the idol of gambling to acquire quick money, of promiscuity and gluttony, greedily devouring the dignity of others and our own self-worth? What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 19-21 GN).
Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt but could not free them from the chains of memory. The unknown was not to be trusted; the One God was not to be worshipped alone. Better to be a dependent slave than a responsible individual: The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." (Exodus 16:1-3 NIV)
Is it what we still want: To not work, and have someone else supply food and shelter; to have children, and not embrace the opportunity to nurture them ourselves? Are we so empty, angry and wounded that we cannot even desire maturity? Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:14-19 NIV)
Our Lord and Saviour became our slave in order to set us free. He knew that we would come to this point in our history when we had to determine the way forward. But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives. (Galatians 5:22-25 GN).
Do we want crime of every colour of collar (blue, white and any other) to be our national norm? How low will we go? What are we stealing now? It used to be hospital sheets and hotel towels. Now it is identities. We even intentionally rob children of their right to married parents in the same home. Are we ready for a moral and spiritual change?
God offers us salvation and the freedom to follow the Holy Spirit. God offers us the treasures of our talents and the gifts of grace. Master and slave are both God's children; even pirates can be transformed by prayer. St Paul writes to Philemon about his runaway slave Onesimus: "Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever--no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord." (Philemon 1:15-16 NIV)
Let us expel the evil spirits that beset us and restore the harmony and peace of a godly life. No more chains, my brothers and sisters, no more chains, to hold you and me. Our God has already invited us to repent and be eternally free: Freedom is what we have--Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. (Galatians 5:1 GN).