Monday, May 5, 2014

Freedom (Monday Morning in the Desert)

When I think of what "freedom" means, I usually think of those freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution, which I swore to uphold when I was sworn in as an attorney.  Specifically, I think of the freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights (freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc.).  But as a Christian, "freedom" has a different meaning.   A monk of Mount Athos, St. Silouan, had this to say about freedom:

"People generally seek freedom in order to do what they like.  But that is not freedom, but the power of sin over you.... True freedom means constant dwelling in God."  (From p. 65 of "St. Silouoan the Athonite" by Archimandrite Sophrony).

In other words, Christian freedom should not lead to a self-absorbed lifestyle, nor a faith which is all about "just me and Jesus".  Christian freedom means that through grace, we have been reconciled with God, and because of that, we have been freed from the captivity of sin to willingly serve God and our neighbors.  Luther summed up the paradoxical nature of Christian freedom when he stated: "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.  A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all."  

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