Here’s a thought for July 3
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Galatians 5:1a, “For freedom Christ has set us free.”
It’s the Fourth. Fireworks, food, forefathers, fun and that one word that rings today through the land: “freedom.” We are the “land of the free.” We have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of petition, freedom of assembly and freedom from tyranny. “They may take our lives, but they’ll never takeOUR FREEDOM!”
Few think of freedom as a problem. William Wallace (as played by Mel Gibson) longed for it, Freddie Mercury wanted to “break free,” and Solange claims, “I’ll be free of all the living boundaries set for me.” That is what freedom is thought to be. “No one can tell me what to do.” “I can be whoever and whatever I want to be.” “I’m free to make my own choices.”
Adam thought the exact same thing. Then he found that this understanding of freedom is not all it’s cracked up to be. He had already been free. He was free to exercise the dominion God gave him over all of creation. When Adam was bound to God’s gifts, to his will, to his law, Adam truly experienced freedom. As soon as he stepped out on his own, all of his relationships were destroyed. His wife no longer submitted to him but instead sought the right put everything within her own power. Adam’s garden was no longer free to work the way God created it. Now thorns and thistles began to find their way into what was created good. Finally Adam, for his fall into sin, found himself bound to the limitation of death. Life would no longer have its way. Death binds everyone to a limit, to a short span of years.
Adam and all his ancestors suffer from these same constraints. The chains of sin and death encompass all. These chains bind, confine and constrain.
But along came a second Adam. He was born perfect just as the first Adam was. But where the first Adam fell, the second Adam remained faithful. He was fastened with nails to a Roman tree, but it was really his Father’s will to leave him bound on the cross. The second Adam became finite. The immortal became mortal and succumbed to death.
Yet no matter how hard the tomb tried it could not keep Jesus detained. This second Adam had other plans. So he rose from the dead to set you free from sin, death and the power of the devil. Thus Martin Luther says, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.” It is Jesus who sets free. It is Jesus who binds people to his family through baptism.
That’s not the end of Luther’s quote. He adds, “A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.” Paul says the same thing in Gal. 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve on another.”
With great freedom comes great responsibility. Freed in Christ, there is only one response left for the Christianlove your neighbor. Freed in Christ, the Christian learns to love God’s law, his will, in order that God’s creation might be served. Freed from the condemning nature of the law, the Christians is free to serve his neighbor. So then freedom is not “no one can tell me what to do” or “I can be whatever I want to be.” Freedom is a life of service lived in accordance with God’s will for the neighbor. Bound to the neighbor, taking the life of a servant, that is freedom. So bind yourself to that life of a servant and let freedom ring!