“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
Select your verse of choice from the two above—Do you want to be a slave to God or to righteousness? Both sound good. Both sound great, actually.
But, like many things that SOUND great, the reality is different. The reality is hard.
I certainly don’t want to remain a slave to sin; although, I like everyone am still enslaved by some sins I cannot seem to dominate. Being a slave to righteousness is definitely BETTER, but it’s still slavery. I conclude that slavery of any kind is hard.
Last week I got to be part of a wonderful mission trip. There were lots of moments when God showed up in worship, in students, in strangers, in chaperones, and in the poor. Of course, I’m not dwelling on those moments; I’m digging my way through the aftermath of the few not-so-pleasant moments.
One evening of the trip was particularly challenging for me. I sat on a bus that night and tried desperately to go to sleep. Instead I heard a seminary professor’s voice in my head, “I hope I haunt your dreams to make you better pastors.” He succeeded. As every tired muscle in my body and every sunburned cell of my skin wanted to crawl onto my somewhat inflated air mattress and block out the day, I knew I couldn’t. That professor’s voice was saying, “You know what you need to do. You know what you need to say. You are good at this. Now, step up! Have courage. Remember what I said, if my kids were teens again, I’d want you to be our pastor.”
I’m thankful that hallucination was both encouraging AND challenging. I mustered up the energy and courage to have conversations I didn’t want to have but needed to have. I pastored with both compassion and conviction. I listened, and I spoke truth. And it was exhausting.
Today I’ve worked more on some of these unpleasant issues. I feel like I’m doing what is right and righteous. It’s hard today. I’m counting on Paul’s promise that this will lead to greater holiness in my life. I could use some of that.