Slavery to the World

Mar 27, 2023

3.27.23   Slavery to the World


We think of slavery as the chattel slavery experienced by the African slaves in our history. But, really, we are all enslaved to different degrees to what we absorbed from our culture as we were growing up, to what we absorbed of the teachings of our families, and to the effect of any unresolved trauma we have experienced in our lives. In the Bible this is described as being enslaved to the world. We are also enslaved to any sin that we committed that has not been given up to God and forgiven by Him and by ourselves. As Jesus put it, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin (John 8:34).” We are not fully free until we are no longer attached to the world’s ways and surrendered to God’s ways of being in this world, that is, until we live in the full truth about who we are and who God is. “Do not conformed to the pattern of this world” as Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


Until we can let go of a lot of the world’s influence over us, we are bound to do what our minds direct us to do. But then we are leaving out the heart and soul and body which reflect other ways we can respond to life, which relate more naturally to the totality of our needs than the mind does. Just think of how we can have the right job, earning a good amount of money so that we can acquire almost anything we want, yet we still feel no real satisfaction in our lives. And we don’t yet have a purpose that defines all that we are.


So much of the “shoulds” and “have tos” in our minds which rule our lives come from the world.. Much of this is absorbed when we are young children, when we are filled with guilt and shame at not being able to obey our parents as they want us to, say before the age of six. Until we are able to step back from these “shoulds,” we will be driven by them. In my family the one teaching that has bothered me the most all my life is the need to be on time if not a few minutes early everywhere I go. Often, when I am on the way to some meeting and I know that I will be early or on time, I can still feel the pressure to get there NOW! Now, as I hear this order in my mind, I relax, I can let go of the pressure that has been with me all my life. This is the way these old formulas of the mind word: Do this Now!!! no matter whatever needs to be in your life at the moment. And only after you have adhered to its dictates can you go back to what you were doing. If you’re in your early 80s as I am, that means that we have been responding to these voices for 75+ years. And that is without seeing if there’s actually any need to be driven to do this now!


Another pressure I have felt all my life is that I am being judged for what I am wearing, for not being good enough at whatever I am doing, for my choices in life, and so much more. Now I just smile at the perfectionist in me that is trying so hard to make me look good! But that has been another list of “shoulds” I ‘should be’ following! Again, I acknowledge the source of this directive within me—my mother—and keep to my much wider agenda.


In order to live more in tune with our true created selves, we need to be able to be able to observe our thoughts and not to be ruled by them. The best way to learn how to do this is to meditate. In the stillness of meditation, be it Centering Prayer or another form of meditation, we will be really bothered by our thoughts. So, what we need to learn is how to observe them, but to not be engaged by them. These thoughts that come up all the time have been with us all out lives. In meditation we learn not to be bothered by them, but more to greet them as “old friends.” Some of them we’ll even be able to guess the source—our parents or other close relative or friend.


As we step back from our thoughts and are not ruled by them, we can then begin to really follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit which will address all of our needs—heart, soul mind and body—the wholeness of who we are, so that we can then live a purposeful/fulfilling life. Just think of what it would be like to have all your needs met, all the time!


Questions to ponder over the week: How can I break off these deep ties to the world and live my life as I was created to live it? Am I determined to live in God’s kingdom or will I just stay where I am in the world? Do I feel like a slave to all these outer influences? Do I truly have the freedom to choose what I desire the most? What is that choice I so desire?

 Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are clear about our priorities, who worship God and act as He directs us to do and to be. May we be true to the Spirit of God within us.

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