Saturday, June 29, 2013

For freedom Christ has set us free

Centuries ago and thousands of miles from here a group of men met in a small room on a humid summer afternoon and made a momentous decision: to declare independence from the legitimate government of their country. It was the 4th of July.

They said out loud what other people fought for, worked for, lived for, and died for: independence and freedom. They won their victory. The struggle continues. It continues today, under different names and in different places.

Sometimes it seems something small. Small to our eyes. Sometimes it seems far away.

Even this past week freedom has been gained and lost. Here in the States it now so often seems to be about individual freedom.

We often ‘declare our independence’ for self-centered reasons.

Or we forget how precious a gift it is, to be free.

Years ago I had a neighbor who read the local paper every day. Once as Election Day came near, I casually asked him, who would you vote for? And he reminded me of a reality, when he said in reply, I have not voted in my entire life.

Why was that? I knew why. He was South African and he was not White.

Today his sons are grown and they vote.

We have freedoms others can only imagine: freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of worship, freedom of speech.

The list goes on.

But the most precious freedom we have is freedom in the spirit.

For freedom we are made free. We have that freedom in Christ.

Through his work. His sacrifice. His life.

We are free – free not only from something, but also for something.

We are free – for the gospel, to build the kingdom of God, to live the message that Jesus lived.

We are made free for a purpose.

To proclaim the kingdom of God and to build it in our lives, our families, our homes, our communities, our world.

We build it – by how we act, with one another.

We show it – in the fruits of the Spirit. We show it in our actions, in our work.

In faith working through love.

Acting with patience, forbearance, gentleness, generosity, and hospitality.

Putting aside the shackles of slavery – the binding of our souls by intolerance, prejudice, gossip, slander, envy, jealousy, bad faith and worse dealing – we live into freedom.

And in freedom we begin to live into the kingdom of God.

It shows the ways we treat each other – especially behind each other’s backs. It shows in how we treat strangers – even when they do not know we are there.

It shows – in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – all the fruits of the spirit.

That is the good news we bear – the good news that for freedom Christ has set us free.

The good news that bears fruit – what we say and what we do that brings forward the kingdom of God.

Let us then lay aside lingering attachments to the life we have left behind – enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, – all the obvious works of the flesh – and those that are less obvious as well.

We know that badmouthing is negative prayer – we do not need to experience it again.

What we need to experience is the gift of grace – giving it, and receiving it again, in a cycle of love that we neither initiate nor conclude.

What we need to experience we also have the joy of sharing with others – that they too may know the gifts of the spirit, the fruit of the spirit, in working for the freedom Christ has given us.

For freedom Christ has set us free – not for our own freedom only but for the freedom of all.

That is what we celebrate today. That is what we are called to live into, tomorrow.

That is the work we are called to do. The work of faith – faith working through love.

Let it be so. Amen.


2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20. Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Luke 9:51-62.

"Badmouthing is negative prayer"--Paul Lee.

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