I spent my summer doing research at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on the different types of slavery: bonded labor, domestic servitude, sex trafficking, child, labor, and forced labor. I could spend hours talking about all the stories that I read, the videos that I watched, and the hundreds of headlines that I had to read each day regarding slavery in our modern world, but that would depress you, and that is not my goal tonight. Those three months really showed me the evils that exist in our world today; it also made me realize that those types of slavery do not even come close to classifying all the types of slavery imposed upon people’s lives.
We think of slavery as a horrible thing that happened in the past, something that left many races and cultures scarred. We think of it as something that happens only in third world countries and in movies, for example: Taken. What we don’t realize is that we also can be slaves, though we remain physically free. We can live enslaved by our own desires, those pressures that our culture and our peers pose on us, and also by the past, and the future.
Freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything. Most of us experienced what our culture mistakenly calls “freedom” when we moved out of our houses and came to college. We thought that this was our time to become independent and finally satisfy our own interests in the enjoyment of earthly goods. We thought that by being away from home we were finally going to see all that there was to see in the world: parties, clubs, college life, alcohol, etc. After all, this is the #HottestCollegeInAmerica, right?
But do we actually realize what happens when we get consumed by the modern culture? The culture of consumerism- the desire to buy more and more, the newest and what is in style; the culture of wanting to look like everyone else; the culture of acting out of our own selfish desires to do good; the culture of the “I don’t have time” and “I’m busy”; the culture of “this is what I ought to do” as opposed to “this is what God wants me to do/be”; the culture of judging everything and everyone as if we were full-time critics. We move so far away from God that we forget the reason why we were created and we forget that we were saved from all sin and chains (visible and invisible) when Jesus died for us on the cross.
We are often crushed under the weight of our own mistakes. But our sins do not scandalize God; instead, He sees us as who we truly are– poor, low, confused, hopeful, bright, etc.
“… and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”- Jn. 8:32
We should allow ourselves to be freed by God’s Word and allow this vision of ourselves to be true in our hearts and in our minds. Then we will become free. We can freely acknowledge our mistakes and move forward. This is not to take responsibility away from our actions, but to be confident in God’s ability to work wonders within us. Such an attitude creates a feeling of relaxed acceptance of who we are that is commensurate with an intense, driving desire toward holiness. We then have the freedom to be sinners, and the freedom to become saints.
Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in mind and body, we may freely accomplish your will. Amen