Friday, July 1, 2022

FREEDOM IN CHRIST

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”  (Galatians 5:1 NKJV)

Those who are critical of Christianity say: God limits people's freedom. The very opposite is true. Only by committing oneself to an infinite freedom can a person be free in a world that in all things seems finite.

Those who are critical of Christianity say: God enslaves people. The very opposite is true. Only by committing oneself to God and His will can a person be set free from slavery to the powers and possessions of this world, of society and of history.

Those who are critical of Christianity say: God lets people say "yes" and "amen" to everything. The very opposite is true. Only his or her relationship with God enables a person to say "no."

Faith, then, gives us the strength to act, to be free, to be decisive, and to persevere.

-- Hans Kung in “Why I Am Still a Christian”


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Thursday, June 30, 2022

CANNED CHRISTIANS

“For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death.”  (Romans 8:2)

I used to think when someone becomes a Christian he must submit to the traditional picture.  He must "fit in" with all the rest of us.  He must be labeled "Christian," so that anyone can recognize him as a Christian.  Every Christian must look and act alike, and be as easily recognizable as the same company cans on the supermarket shelf.  He has to conform to a certain size can.  Some things he can do, other things he cannot; some thou shalts, and quite a few thou shalt nots.

Of course, he must give up his "worldly habits" and "worldly friends," and if, for example, he still drinks or smokes, he will not quite fit into the can.  We will have to compress him a little further.  So, all of my Christianity reduces itself to one long exercise of compressing and squeezing into a can labeled, "Christian."

But I can't find anything about this in Your words, Lord … Nothing about a canned Christian.  You never bound Your disciples.  You set them free.  You told us to deny ourselves, but You said it in the positive context of following.  You strike at the core of our pride.  You do not want us to chop off a few habits and then sneak that core of pride into the can.  How subtle and sinful we are!  You have come to release us; not to repress us.  You have come to set us free.  "If then the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free." (John 8:36)

-- H.S. Vigeveno in “Jesus the Revolutionary”


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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

HONESTY AND CONFESSION

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:8-9 NRSV)

The discipline of confession brings an end to pretense.  God is calling into being a church that can openly confess its frail humanity and knows the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ.  Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change. 

-- Richard Foster in “A Celebration of Discipline” 


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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

PASSION AND COMPASSION

Just as the healed, healthy body gets up, stretches, and moves, so does the human personality healed by God long to be involved in loving, creative encounter with other human beings.  Reaching out to heal others is a spontaneous development in the growing wholeness of our spirits.  Just as the yeast kneaded into the dough acts, grows, and manifests itself throughout the changing loaf, so does the radical act of God within us work change in us and through us. This change is that of passion and compassion as we encounter the agony of the torn, fragmented world around us.

Within a few months after consenting to God's deep healing within myself, I began to notice a new, painful awareness of the hurting people around me. On buses, in airports, on the busy sidewalks of the city I began to notice faces lined with pain and weariness. It became painful to open the newspaper and to watch the evening news. As the healing deepened within me, the sensitivity grew. I began to want to do something for the wounds of others. I began to realize that this longing was an inseparable part of growing within the healing of God's love. 

-- Flora Slosson Wuellner in “Prayer, Stress, and Our Inner Wounds”, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


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Monday, June 27, 2022

FREE AND RESPONSIBLE

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  (Philippians 2:3-4 RSV)

Don’t be afraid of yourself, live your individuality to the full -- but for the good of others. Don’t copy others in order to buy fellowship, or make convention your law instead of living the righteousness.

To become free and responsible. For this alone were human beings created, and he who fails to take the Way which could have been his shall be lost eternally. 

-- Dag Hammarskjold in “Markings”


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