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 8:35-36
Jesus offers freedom, a larger world than the one I am looking at in the moment, a larger kingdom than the tiny kingdom of me. Slavery is the opposite of freedom, in case you were wondering, and I find myself enslaved to the most absurd masters. A slave can’t travel freely but is limited to certain property. As a slave of men, I once found myself comfortable only in certain restaurants, certain stores and certain neighborhoods. The ones outside of my limited comfort zone were weird, or dangerous, indiscriminately popular or just ugly. Mostly, I couldn’t lower myself to being perceived as undiscriminating. I am easily enslaved to such opinions of others. I need for them to know that I know what is proper, what is best, and what is most desirable to the most critical individuals. And if I myself am not wearing, decorating, having or joining such a select “x” it is only because I chose not to do so, not because I didn’t know. That is slavery.
But this slavery isn’t just about the opinions of others and being respected or esteemed by others. I am seeing that the slavery is also to a certain view of people. The clearly Wal Mart clad, overweight 12 year old boy sitting at a park playing a video game is not someone I am free to admire or adore or hope my children interact with regularly. Or the awkwardly disheveled mother, clearly stressed out by her young toddlers and elementary aged child on the other side of the playground. In my limited value of people, I cannot approach her with any thought of finding a dear friend in that scene. She doesn’t dress in a way that I find familiar nor are her children dressed like the kids I trust from my children’s schools. The way they speak doesn’t indicate we’d have much in common. Enslaved to the limits of “in common” and “in network” relationships, these two separate individuals are off limits for me to love, cherish and with whom I could share community life.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. Romans 14:10
I treat restaurants, public places, neighborhoods, schools, businesses, attire, parenting, eating habits, entertainment habits and social customs with contempt. My contempt and discomfort which feels like power is actually enslavement and a very short chain allowing very little movement. Jesus has come to set me free to love others as He has loved me. When my judgment of others reveals itself in great discomfort or haughty disdain, it is a sign that I have little idea of my own position before God apart from the person and work of Jesus. Jesus didn’t go home with Zaccheus for a meal because others simply misunderstood the little guy and he wasn’t that bad after all. No, Jesus went home for a meal with Him because that is the direction in which His redemptive love moves – toward those who are most offensive, most detestable and most unappealing – yes, even me. Jesus didn’t steer clear of the leper in fear the disease would rub off on Him. He healed the leper.
As I stand, or collapse, or crawl or limp, or walk clothed in the person and work of Jesus, I am now free to “roam the cabin” and to sit down in any seat on the plane next to any passenger and fall in love. I don’t have to be afraid of or steer clear of the public school across the street from our house or the Chili’s in the suburbs. Both are filled with Zaccheus and me and if God is for us, who can be against us? Oh may God transform my heart to become one that is increasingly for and decreasingly against.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34