Did you know that slavery still exists in the 21st century? When many people think of slavery, they think of the horrors of the 1700 and 1800s, and think that after the Civil War, slavery in the United States and around the world began to die off.
Sadly, slavery has just taken different forms. According to the website antislavery.org, “Today slavery is less about people literally owning other people – although that still exists – but more about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave.”
The same website estimates that are 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world. That’s a shocking number, and we must be ready to help anti-slavery organizations. A local organization, 3Strands Global Foundation, in El Dorado Hills, brings education and opportunities to serve right in our backyard. And we must pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bring change to selfish and hardened hearts, healing to victims, and courage to leaders around the world.
As bad as these kinds of slavery are, they are symptoms of the worst and greatest slavery – the slavery of humanity to sin. Before sin entered the world, there was no selfishness, there was no using and objectifying of other human beings, there was no murder. But ever since our first parents sinned, mankind has been in slavery to sin and death. No one escapes. Jesus said this so clearly in John 8, when He said “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
The truth about our sinful condition is that without spiritual emancipation, we have no hope of escape from the bonds of sin and death. Oh, we would like to think that we are progressing, that the human race is getting better day by day, but it just isn’t true. We reinvent slavery. We enslave ourselves to drugs, alcohol, food, pornography, and shopping. We become enslaved to bad habits and bad words. Without Jesus, we aren’t progressing, we’re regressing.
But we have hope in Jesus! Jesus was crucified like a slave, like a common criminal. He was treated in a dehumanizing fashion by his enemies. Yet Jesus did this willingly, so that He could free us from our slavery to sin and death. He died like a slave but rose from the dead like a champion! His death and resurrection have freed us from sin and from death. Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
This year, as we celebrate Reformation on October 27, listen carefully to the Gospel reading from John 8. It is our Emancipation Proclamation, words of freedom from the Savior who died like a slave to make us free in His resurrection. In Him, you are free indeed!