Freedom in Christ
- “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
I’ve heard my share of American, individualist propaganda about freedom. It usually assumes that freedom means not owing anyone anything and having no obligations, debts, or responsibilities. It assumes that the ideal state of a person is self -sufficient and alone. This should clue us in to the demonic nature of such an idea right away, yet often it is paired with language about Jesus and thus shielded from accusations of evil. As progressive Christians, it is our responsibility to forcefully undermine such blatantly evil notions of freedom and assert a freedom rooted in grace and responsibility.
Freedom in Christ is a phrase one almost never hears in the progressive church. We are often uncomfortable with the idea that being Christian has produced a “before and after” in our lives; we avoid any statement which might suggest we are excluding others who don ’t “believe” what we “believe”. I place “believe” in quotes because I don ’t think we have made the Biblical turn from “intellectual assent” to “trust and commitment” in our rendering of the word “faith”. Even as we seek to be inclusive, we exclude ourselves from a deepened relationship with God and Jesus in how we talk about following Them.
We are rarely talking about what we trust in, what we are committing to regardless of how life goes and what happens. More often than not, when talking about “faith” and “belief” we are talking about what we think is accurate. This is part of our slavery to the culture of capitalism and colonialism; the desire to find and follow the “one right way” is a manifestation of oppression and leads us to participate in the oppression of others. Our freedom in Christ is our path out of domination systems of thought and behavior. It is a path that resists being co -opted by the forces of violence, intimidation, and self -justification. This freedom isn ’t free; it costs us our allegiance and calls us into solidarity with the suffering.
In Paul ’s thought, as reflected in his letters to the Galatian and the Roman churches, we see an oxymoron that is a stumbling block to any church in America: true freedom is found in slavery to Christ. It is our submission (or our surrender if you prefer this term) to the authority of Jesus as Anointed One of the Eternal God which stands as the foundation of our freedom here on Earth and in life. There is no place where we are both alive and alone; being human means being in relationship. Where there is relationship, there is responsibility; responsibility affirms the mutuality that relationship provides. This both upholds our need for personal commitment and our rejection of objectivity in our life of faith.
In the coming two months, we will be examining Pauline theology about slavery and freedom from within the Empire; we will look at his vision of liberation from what keeps us small and separate through the lens of white supremacy culture, to which we are all bound. We will (hopefully) name and cast out all demonic lies about freedom and proclaim a surrender to the will and leadership of Love as made known through Jesus. Only in this way will we be able to live fully, free of the strong hold that has hemmed us in.
In Peace and With Love, Pastor Andrew