“The Freedom to Be Christian” - Written by Rev. Dr. John Regan

Galatians 5:13-15 - For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.  For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

This summer I have been slowly reading through Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton.  I think all Americans should occasionally read about the early years of the Republic.  We sometimes think it was a simple hop, skip, and jump from signing the Declaration of Independence to the nation-state we know as the United States of America.  We often forget a long war, the difficult transition from confederacy to a union, and the creation of a new form of government.   One of the central questions for Mr. Hamilton and the other founders was how do you create a social order that allows its citizens to enjoy and express their freedom, but somehow provides enough safeguards to thwart the threats of tyranny or anarchy.  The Framers’ dilemma about freedom is still ours today.

The same is true for the Church.  The Apostle Paul, writing in the context of the repression of the Roman Empire, gives the faithful a new language.  It is the theological language of liberation.  Paul turns the reality of human slavery on its head and uses slavery as a metaphor for liberation.  What Paul preached in the first century is still a truth for us to claim in the 21st century.  As Christians we have the freedom to leave behind cultural languages of our world that do not conform to God’s vision.  As Christians we are empowered to leave behind the native and natural languages of scapegoating, blaming, and hubris.  We have the freedom to choose the language we will use, the priorities we will set, and the methods we will employ to share the message of Jesus Christ—which is Love.

We can become more than victims of terrorism, we can be defiant, non-violent resisters.  We can become model citizens who can offer and invent solutions to our problems, rather than simply complain about what is broken in our city, state, and nation.  We can be Christians of hope that God is indeed still actively redeeming the world—not about to pull the plug on it.  As you can see, freedom is a dangerous word, and I suspect one of God’s favorites.

Holy God, you are the One that delivered us from Egypt and Babylon.  Merciful God, you are the One that leads us away from self to community. Gracious God, you are the One who loves us without limits.  Amazing. Amen

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