Sunday, July 14, 2024

Faith Walking in a Secular World

 "...let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to the Master."                                                 Augustine

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Sanctification by Grace

 The walk of faith is not a guilt trip.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Humility Thought For The Day

 "It is better to know some of the questions than all 

of the answers."              James Thurber

Monday, July 1, 2024

Celebrating Freedom

 July….  Independence Day!  Fellowship, fun, and fireworks….

 

On July 4, 1776, the leaders of our nation-to-be took a major step not simply toward independence of the thirteen British colonies in North America, but more importantly, toward a government that would view all human beings as having value.  The Revolutionary War made the Declaration of Independence a reality, and the thirteen colonies became free.  And so freedom has become synonymous with independence in American culture.  It is interesting that independence and freedom are not synonymous in Scripture. 

 

The celebration of Independence Day carries a potent reminder to believers that our lives of faith are not all about—or even mostly about—independence.  In fact, the Bible reminds us that an independent attitude can have disastrous results.  The archangel Lucifer was not content to remain dependent upon the LORD but rather decided to strive with God, to become like Him.  After Lucifer was expelled from heaven, he came as a serpent to tempt Eve, offering her the fruit that would make her wise like God.  If she were wise like God, she could be independent!  The American dream is older than America….And so Eve, and then Adam, took the fruit and ate.  Their choosing a way independent from the LORD immediately led to fear and shame.  And like Lucifer was expelled from heaven, Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden.  All of heaven wept, and all of God’s glorious creation has suffered ever since.

 

The “self-made man” that we often admire looks great through the lens of independence, but does not fare so well through the lens of Biblical truth.  The Bible is clear that it is God who has made us and not we ourselves (as proclaimed in the Book of Common Prayer).  He gives us every breath we take, and He is the genuine source of provision and protection.  We are called to trust in the LORD with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding and to depend upon the Father for our daily bread.  We are called to glorify our Maker and by faith welcome the indwelling Holy Spirit who will enable us to be conformed to the character of Christ and transform us as He allows us to behold His glory.

 

The spirit of independence—which chants such mantras as “when you want something done right, do it yourself”—can wreak havoc in our relationships as well.  The Apostle Paul teaches us that as believers, we become members of one body—the body of Christ.  We cannot be independent any more than the parts of our physical bodies can be independent from one another.

 

Freedom, on the other hand, is a more Biblical concept, though again it differs significantly from the  world’s concept of freedom.  The Good News of the Gospel proclaims freedom from slavery to our sin nature and from the penalty and power of sin as set forth in God’s Law as recorded by Moses in the Old Testament.  We need no longer to be bound by sin and the fear and shame that follows.  But here is the irony about the freedom that the Bible proclaims: We can experience the freedom offered by God only if and as we relinquish our sin nature-driven desire to live independently from Him.  It is only as we become bond-servants of Christ, abiding in Him as the vine, that we can experience genuine freedom as well as peace and joy as we bear fruit for His glory.  And all of this is possible only as we recognize our need for the indwelling Holy Spirit and depend upon Him to complete the work He has begun in us.

 

And so while our celebration of Independence as a nation is quite appropriate, our July 4th activities also invite us to consider that as bond-servants of Christ, we choose—moment by moment--dependence upon Him rather than independence from Him.  And from that solid and safe foundation, we can rejoice in the eternal freedoms our Lord and Savior has won for us: His atonement for our sins on the cross has freed us from slavery to sin, and from the power and penalty of sin.  We walk free from the opinions and expectations of others, even (and sometimes especially) ourselves.  Praise God, indeed!