One of the mistakes we make as Christians is believing that we are a free people. The truth, however, is not that we are a free people, but that we are a freed people. In the prologue to the Ten Commandments God reveals, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:2
We are not born free. Freedom is a gift that comes from God and we are warned over and over throughout the Scripture that we are not to slip back into bondage and slavery. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not again submit to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 “Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” Acts 15:10
In Egypt the children of Israel only had knowledge of the pagan gods of Egypt. These were the gods that, as taskmasters, forced mind-numbing slavery upon them. Under these gods they were beaten down, robbed of their dignity, forced into servitude, and abused daily. What a contrast with, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you” out of slavery in Egypt.
What had the children of Israel done to deserve this divine rescue? Nothing. They had never known a generation of the descendants of Abraham that had not been enslaved. All they knew and all they understood were slavery and oppression. But, in the discouragement and hopelessness of that despair and darkness God called out their name and offered them freedom.
Sometimes, we also feel as if there is no freedom from the pressures and hassles of our lives. We seem to just get over one crises and another one pops up and when we get through that one an even bigger problem looms out of the darkness. At times it is difficult to remember, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Let’s go back to Exodus 20 and look at verse three, the first of the Ten Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Our tendency, as freed people, is to follow after the gods of our own making. We quickly forget that it is the Lord our God who brought us out of slavery and into the world of freedom. How quickly we enslave ourselves again to the cultural icons of our society. We demand to be wealthy, famous, and powerful. We dream of having the most friends, the best wardrobe, the fanciest auto and the biggest home. We rely upon our own aptitude, skills, and talents to try to make ourselves free, but we find that in reality we only become more enslaved to the gods of our culture.
It is only when we put God first that our life moves into balance. Notice the first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” No one person, no ambition, no dream, no allegiance is to be before God in our life. And the reason for that is simple; none of these things has delivered us out of bondage and given us freedom. Only the death of God’s own Son at Calvary gives us freedom from slavery to sin and death. How can we possibly place anything above or before that sacrifice?
You and I have been purchased with a price. We have been bought out of slavery to death by the amazing gift of God giving His Son to die in our place that we may be free in Christ. We are to trust in God and not in ourselves. We are to wait upon His Spirit to guide and direct our life. When we put ourselves into the hands of God we find a new thankfulness and security that encompasses all that we are and all that we do.
For all of us who would take the word of God seriously and long to live a life more in tune with the grace of God, then we need to start with a simple thought; God is God and we are not Him, or as Luther put it, “there is one savior, and I am the saved.” If we are to be free people then we can have no other gods before the Father and that includes our own ego.