“Oh, that we were back in Egypt,” they moaned, “and that the Lord had killed us there! For there we had plenty to eat. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to kill us with starvation.” Exodus 16:3
At first, the thought that anyone would prefer slavery to freedom seems far-fetched, but as I repeatedly encounter it in the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, I pause to ponder about what ways I might be longing for slavery.
The concept of freedom was certainly alien to the Israelites that Moses led out of Egypt. Having been in slavery for 430 years, no one alive had any idea what freedom felt like. All they ever knew was being slaves in Egypt, and that had perhaps set a bar on their expectations from life. For a people whose entire existence was previously only to provide manual labour for the Egyptians in exchange for food, finding themselves in the desert without food, even though free, had upset something in their psyche.
Coming to freedom in Christ often means that we lose what we used to think of as perks before we got saved. Think of someone like Zacchaeus who was like a corrupt senior civil servant in the tax office. When he got saved, he offered to give out the money he had corruptly gathered over the years, and repay the people he had cheated. If someone like that were to come upon some hard times, it isn’t far-fetched to imagine that he might wonder about how he could have easily solved his financial problems in the ‘good old days.’
Same for the former ‘hook up’ girl who, now unable to afford the latest iPhone, might wonder about how easy it was to afford in the past. Or even the person who says self-righteously, “if not for Jesus. If it was me of those days, I would have shown you my true colour.”
To come to Christ is however to come to the reckoning that the “me of those days” is dead and was buried, and that a new man has risen in his place. No longer should the perks of slavery hold any attraction for us. As Peter the Apostle wrote, and you won’t be spending the rest of your life chasing after evil desires but will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things the godless enjoy—sex sin, lust, getting drunk, wild parties, drinking bouts, and the worship of idols, and other terrible sins. 1 Peter 4:2-3
To come to Christ is to “have had enough of the evil things the godless enjoy.” The problem however is that the evil things the godless enjoy are always presented as wonderful things. The devil keeps his slaves in golden chains. They march along enraptured by the glitter, oblivious of the grind.
Pause! Ponder. What ‘perks’ from the old life do you still long for? Repudiate it now. Break free! For, “Whom the son of man has set free is free indeed.”