I woke up this morning feeling bound.
Bound by the tasks that are right and necessary, like feeding my children, paying our bills, taking care of my body. Bound by the expectations of others, the responsibilities that have been laid upon me as well as those I have chosen to pick up. Bound up by busyness; bound by competing drives to succeed and to rest, to get things done and to be simply be with my family.
Some of these cords are beautiful bindings, ropes laden with love; others are heavy manacles that were never intended to tie me down; however, all pale in comparison to the one cord that leads to true freedom.
Contrary to the popular and regnant belief that freedom is not being bound, freedom is being bound in love to the Good Master. Our culture and our conniving flesh would have us believe that there is such a thing as a masterless life. The Scriptures and our experiences tell us otherwise; we are all mastered. The question that should concern us, then, is, “To whom or what are we bound?”
Listen to the voice of the One Good Master, God Himself, speaking of His unrelenting, inexplicable love for His children.
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. Hosea 11:1-4.
Far from being the One who laid heavy burdens on them, God describes Himself here as one who gently led and cared for His people with gentle cords of love. He lifted burdens from the false and fierce masters and cared for His children were, in His own words just a few short verses down, “bent on turning away.”
God set up some rules and parameters for His people via His servant Moses which are recorded in the book of Exodus. In Exodus 21, God describes the laws regarding slaves, which was then a common practice in the Ancient Near East. The laws were not meant to condone slavery, but to create protection within an already existing and broken system.
According to Exodus 21, if someone were to buy a Hebrew slave, they were to work for him for 6 years and be freed in the seventh year, in the same condition in which he was received.
Then, Moses adds an interesting addendum to this law in verses 5 and 6.
But if the slave plainly says, “I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out for free,” then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door of the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.
As strange as this sounds to our modern ears, what with the piercing of the ears as his property and all, there is beauty to behold here.
The picture is one of a chosen, willful, voluntary servitude to a Good Master whom one loves, trusts and respects. The piercing of the ears would have been an outward sign to all the world that this man was accounted for and was under the care and responsibility of the Good Master.
As believers, we are the prized property of the Good Master. As those who have seen the love of the Good Master clearly displayed through His Son being killed on the Cross to free us, we have chosen slavery to our Savior over slavery to self, Satan and the standards of the world.
As such, we are marked by His Spirit; we are led by the cords of love of our Good Master.
We are bound, but we are bound by love to the Good Master who has purchased our freedom which thereby ensures our voluntary servitude.
In the midst of all the other bindings of this life, it does my heart good to remember that first and foremost I am bound to my Savior who promises, as only God can, to somehow simultaneously lead me and go behind me while staying with me.