Paul says, “The one you obey is the one you are a slave to.”
We think it goes the other way. “The one you are a slave to is the one you obey.”
But I started thinking about email.
I ordered a pizza the other day. I got an email about my order. I got a sticker asking for my opinion. And then I got an email asking for my opinion. The offer was daily instant prizes and the possibility of $1000 daily prize. So I gave my response. Because who wouldn’t want a $1000. But it cost me. It cost me attention. It cost me time.
All the time we have this experience. We sign up for mailing lists. We exchange our name for coupons. We get free offers. We follow the deals.
They are gods asking us to worship, to give our time and resources in exchange for the blessing of something we still have to buy. They are creating connections to benefit them at our expense. At the expense of future purchases. At the expense of selling our data. And, as we have often seen with hacking, at the exposure of our information to many other people.
We are offering ourselves and our families as sacrifices.
Paul says that we live as slaves to sin, and the way we can tell is by what we obey. We serve ourselves indulgently and destructively. We pursue the thing that gives us the promise of pleasure without consequence. But, Paul says, there are always consequences.
It’s like the pizza company. We want the pleasure of the possibility of a daily gift and so we give up information and time and desires.
But there is a positive turn in this story. The story isn’t about pain and grudging slavery. Paul says, “Be a slave to what gives you life. Obey the one where the consequence is life.”
We don’t talk about being slaves to breathing. But we do it every moment. We don’t talk about being slaves to being alive, but we cling to it.
Paul says to find the pattern of teaching that gives life. Like loving one another with the same other-developing that Christ used in loving us. And unlike the gods who consume you and demand more, find the sacrificial system that has God taking your place, not you, not your family.
From a message I wrote in reflection on Romans 6:12-23.