“F” is for Freedom (February 29, 2012)

…Opening To…

Now let us all with one accord, in company with ages past, keep vigil with our heavenly Lord in his temptation and his fast. (Gregory the Great, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. (Galatians 5:13; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “F” is for freedom. When you first think about “freedom,” I would hazard to guess that you think about it in its patriotic habitat. We talk about the United States of America being “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We see bumper stickers that read, “Freedom isn’t free.” To Americans, “freedom” means something akin to “getting to do what I want.”

However, this definition is faulty. If everyone got to do what he or she wanted, we would reach a state of chaos pretty quickly. 17th century political scientist John Locke called this kind of absolute freedom the “state of nature”; in it, he argued, there really is no opportunity to exercise one’s freedom because of the constant need to protect oneself from other people’s exercise of their freedom. And so governments are instituted to protect rights. This paradoxically creates freedom by curtailing it.

In the same way, as followers of Christ, we are at our freest when we surrender our personal freedom to God; when we follow the path Christ walked; when we don’t do what we want but what we discern God wants of us. At first blush, this sounds far from freedom. But the paradox holds – the more we turn away from God and follow our own desires, the more we enslave ourselves to them. The more we allow God to lead us, the more freedom we find.

…Praying For…

Dear God, in your service is perfect freedom. Help me to recognize when I have enslaved myself to the false gods of this world so that I can turn to you, let go the shackles of sin, and be free. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, nourished by your Spirit and willing to open up a larger space within for you to dwell.

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