Dear Church Family,
Our scripture for today comes from the Apostle Paul:
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?…But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life.” –Romans 6: 16, 22

My children are climbing the walls with excitement which must mean they have a holiday from school which, in January, must mean Martin Luther King Day is upon us. But this day marks so much more than a day off for school children. It even marks so much more than what King did for our country (which is saying a lot). What we don’t often think of is how his efforts affected the rest of the world. One person he deeply affected was Nelson Mandela who went from prisoner to leader of South Africa.

I recently read a wonderful book about that amazing shift for Mandela. The book is calledPlaying the Enemy by John Carlin and a version of it was made into the film “Invictus”. One part that has remained with me is when Mandela is speaking to fellow black South Africans and he is trying to convince them to support the country’s rugby team. This may seem like a small thing but the rugby team, the Springboks, represented every terrible part of the country’s apartheid history. It was more than a sport’s team. It was political and racial and emotional. Here is what Mandela told that booing crowd:

“Look,” he admonished them, “amongst you are leaders. Don’t be shortsighted, don’t be emotional. Nation-building means that we have to pay a price, in the same way that the whites have to pay a price. For them to open sports to black people: they are paying a price; for us to say we must now embrace the rugby team is paying a price. That’s what we should do.”

Eventually, he won the crowd and their boos turned to cheers. This idea of each of us paying a price is so key to our life as citizens. In this election year we all must deeply consider what price we are willing to pay for the good of our whole nation. And paying a price is key to our life as citizens of heaven as well. Paul lays out the options: we can either be a slave to sin or a slave to Christ. He does not give an option where we are not a slave to anything. Instead, he says we will all be a slave to something. There is a price to pay. He says, for him, he will be a slave to Christ, he will pay that price to his Lord and to no one else.

As we celebrate this weekend, enjoy your day off if you get one. But, even in the relaxing, may we all deeply consider the price we are willing to pay, both as citizens of our nation and as citizens of heaven.

Let’s have a prayer: Lord Jesus, you call me to obedience. You ask me to submit my own will to yours. Give me the faith to submit to you, knowing the price of obedience is worth any cost. It is in your gracious name I ask it. Amen.

Grace and Peace be with you all,