“But I don’t want those things,” I told him. “I’m perfectly happy with the basic package,” which is nothing actually, but a phone on the wall that works.
“But you can talk long distance as long as you want.”
“I don’t make that many long distance phone calls.”
“But you can have call waiting and never miss a call.”
“I don’t receive many calls.”
“But you can have digital internet service and not tie up your phone with dial-up.”
“I’m never on the computer longer than ten minutes and if it’s important, they’ll call back.”
He was stumped. He had never run into someone who was not held captive by their telephone.
We do it all the time about everything.
“Lather, rinse, repeat,” the bottle says. Do you realize you don’t have to repeat? If you wash your hair regularly, once is all you need. Can’t get enough lather, you say? Add a handful of water to the lather you already have and that usually does the trick. Saves you money, too, because your bottle goes twice as far. Yet most follow those directions without even thinking about it—held prisoner by a bottle of shampoo.
How about the calendar? I learned this lesson long ago from my mother. We lived a thousand miles away and couldn’t get down for the holidays. She left her decorations up until we got there the end of January, not worrying about the strange looks she got from the neighbors. I have done the same with my children. A holiday or birthday is when you can be together, not when the calendar says it is.
Twice I have had eye surgery on our anniversary. We celebrated several weeks later. It isn’t about the date as much as it is about the sentiment. If it isn’t about the sentiment, you are simply a slave of your calendar.
Women are held captive by fashion. I went to the mall—another place that holds us prisoner with the obsession to shop, shop, shop—and came away with nothing. Everything I saw was just plain ugly. Most of the clothes in my closet are well over ten years old. Why buy a new dress when the old one still fits, is in good condition, and especially if you don’t like the new style?
It’s amazing to me that we Americans, a people who pride ourselves on our independence, can let things take us prisoner so easily. It’s horrifying to me when the same feeling makes us prisoners of sin.
I read an article several years ago in which European women were asked what they thought of American women’s clothes. “Americans dress like prostitutes,” was a common opinion. (Check out Prov 7:6-12!) In fact, considering my last visit to that mall, I would have to agree. It looked like I had been dropped into the middle of a streetwalkers’ convention. I remember the first time the miniskirt came into fashion. A few years later the hemlines dropped again. It’s a shame that some Christian women only dropped theirs because their masters, the fashion designers, said to. Dressing like a pure and godly woman had nothing to do with it.
But that is not the only way sin can take us captive. Do you want to be liked? Do you want to be accepted by your peers? Do you want to be popular or cool? Guess how that affects your behavior given the general sinfulness of society, which you are making your lord and master with those motivations?
God has set us free from sin and expects us to act like it, completely independent of the culture we find ourselves in. Think today about the things you let take you captive. Maybe it’s time you broke out of prison.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham [We are Americans!] and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-36