Devotional — Accept real liberty with God to be truly free
Published 6:26 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022
Our freedom or liberty is precious to us as Christians and Americans. We all take it all for granted, and it gets muddied because the two are not the same thing.
We have freedom to do things as American citizens that some Christians cannot in good conscience do, such as vote. Our freedom in Christ requires us to reject slavery to the works of the law (Gal. 5:1), but we love to be legalistic in the world and church. The freedom expressed in the Declaration of Independence was for all men but less for blacks and women.
Christ gives us a new liberty in which there is no longer distinction among us (Gal. 3:28). We are no longer a people of division or faction or color or gender or orientation, but all of God’s children are one in Christ. Sometimes I find myself arguing with scripture, but I never seem to win. Our freedom is not a badge, an excuse, or a weapon. It is a gift of grace. It enables us to share with each other freely in the world that Jesus our Lord gives us.
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What’s really interesting about liberty or freedom is that we can both be freed “from” something and freed “for” something. Liberty is really a two-sided coin. Not only are we liberated from whatever was holding us back, but we are also liberated to be, do and think in new ways because of that newfound freedom.
In that same chapter 5 of Galatians in which Paul says we cannot maintain the old, dearly held divisions (circumcision), he gives us the clear direction for good expressions of our freedom (the fruit of the spirit!).
Yes, we are freed. We are liberated. We are no longer chained to the abusive confines of past ways. We are not bound to the way the world has always done this or that. If we are willing to live into our freedom in Christ together, we will see a world around us in which we are freed to truly love, freed to truly give, freed to truly serve, and freed to truly hope. If we genuinely trust in Jesus to carry us through this life with each other, all of this is open to us.
It is either this or we cling to historical cellblocks and shackling divisions. In truly loving, we see our neighbor, whomever that might be, as a legitimate sister or brother. In truly giving, we share more than what is expected or normal or comfortable. In truly serving, we become the servant of the other. In truly hoping, we maintain a faith that God is working all things for good for those who live for the love of God.
It is hard to accept true liberty, however, when we like to be our own god. Nevertheless, Jesus is smarter than that. If we can love our neighbor at least as much as we love ourselves, the world will be a wonderful place – free to be more the place God made it to be.
Rev. Dr. Peter Smith is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.