Sunday, March 7, 2021

TERTIARY ADJUNCT OF UNIMATRIX ZERO-ONE - Isaiah 61 Devotional #4

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim freedom for the captives..."
– Isaiah 61:1d (NIV)
 
"So quiet!" wailed Seven. "Just one voice."

"One voice can be stronger than a thousand voices," replied Janeway. "Your mind is independent now, with its own unique identity."

"You are forcing that identity upon me. It's not mine."

"Oh yes it is." replied Janeway, her voice brimming with compassion. "I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you. The existence you were denied, the child who never had a chance. That life is yours to live now."

Any serious "Trekkie" would immediately identify this exchange as being from "The Gift" -- one of the opening episodes of Star Trek Voyager's second season. 

"Seven," of course, was short for "Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One" -- her Borg "designation." Borg have no names, only designations. Names are "irrelevant."

Formerly a human child, Annika Hansen, Seven had been captured and assimilated many years ago by the Borg to become a drone in their collective, where, as half-humanoid-half-machine, their minds are technologically interlinked. Each Borg drone hears the thoughts of the entire collective, so they think and act as one. They find strength and comfort in their communal thought world. 

Now, while imprisoned in Starship Voyager's brig, as much for her own safety as that of the ship, Seven is unaccustomed to hearing nothing but her own thoughts within her troubled head, rather than thousands of voices. She has been severed from the collective's "hive mind," and the silence is maddening.

It is at this point that Kathryn Janeway, the captain of Voyager, meets with Seven and tries to convey the magnitude of the gift of freedom she has been given. But it isn't until the end of the fourth season, about seventy-five episodes later, that Seven finally comes to appreciate her freedom and turns down the opportunity of returning to the Borg collective.

Wherever Jesus walked, we see Him setting captives free. But to effectively continue that ministry -- as He commanded us to do -- we must be able to recognize captivity in all its manifestations. Moreover, we must understand the addictive effects of long-term captivity on the human mind and spirit.

Captivity can be a source of identity, security, serenity -- and torpor. Caught in Satan's web, injected with his mind-numbing venom, the captive feels no compulsion to escape. In fact, even after experiencing new birth through our Savior's blood, it may require months -- even years -- for many of us Christians to fully yield to the Holy Spirit's venom-purging action.

Captivity has many "perks" that tempt us away from the purposes of God, away from the glorious existence He has ordained for us, away from His promise of "life in abundance." 

- The Israelites yearned for the "good old days" of their slavery because the fine cuisine they left behind seemed more enticing than the Promised Land ahead. COMFORT.

- Or, we have the rich young ruler who couldn't follow the One he recognized as his "Good Master" ... because he would miss the gold clinking in his counting-house. WEALTH.

- Pilate had repeatedly sought to release Jesus until the Jews played their ace: "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar." Then Pilate washed Jesus off his hands. POSITION, POWER.

- One disciple would not follow Jesus because he needed to "bury his father" -- i.e., he wanted to see the inheritance divided first. SECURITY.

- Even Peter, who had been part of Christ's inner circle for more than three years, succumbed to peer pressure around the campfire and denied his Lord. FEAR OF MAN.

Ponder Jesus' words in Luke 9:23. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Herein is the divine paradox: that the cross, which would seem to rob us of freedom, is actually the source of true freedom. "May I never boast," says the Apostle Paul, "except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14, NIV) It is the power of the cross applied daily to our lives that ultimately releases us from the world's grip of captivity -- with all its deceptive "perks."

As Captain Janeway explained to Seven of Nine, "I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you. The existence you were denied, the child who never had a chance. That life is yours to live now." 

Jesus the Anointed One came to proclaim liberty to the captives. And now He has given us the keys of the Kingdom to go forth and continue the task of setting captives free.

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, open my eyes to see where I'm still held captive by webs of comfort, entertainment, wealth, security, fear of man, and whatever else. Please set me free, that I may continue Your earthly ministry by proclaiming freedom to all those You send my way.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

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Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 3/7/2021.