It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch outâ€”in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?Â Â Galatians 5:13-15 (The Message)
I am a weepy patriot. I will be watching the â€œCapital 4thâ€ presentation tonight on PBS and the songs, like God Bless America, the military personnel and their families in the crowd, the wounded warriors in the crowd, and little children waving our country’s flag will have me in tears before the first commercial break! I love my country and I do not take it for granted that I live in this land by God’s extravagant grace.
This week demonstrations took place in my hometown by those who are strongly against same sex marriages and those who believe it should be allowed. Both groups are exercising their constitutional right to voice their opinion. My sadness as I read and listened to the accounts of the event comes from those who are against same sex marriage and verbalized that their #1 reason is because we are a Christian nation and so the Bible says that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. I am not going to argue about that point here in this devotion. My heart is heavy because I am asking myself that just because I have the freedom to speak so publicly on this and tell people when I believe they are wrong (and imply, if not outright say, they are sinners) is that ultimately building them in their faith or destroying them? Jesus certainly publicly rebuked the Pharisees in their sin but when they brought Him the adulterous woman, He rebuked or warned her not to sin any more only after everyone else had left.
I met an elderly woman in Hungary who, during the Communist regime in her country, had to bury her young daughter with prayers said secretly behind closed doors. Publicly she had to stoically follow the coffin to the cemetery as if she didn’t know the Hope because any public display of religion could have ended in bloodshed. I met her in church where she came with a big smile on her face. She could enter the doors in view of everyone and sing without fear that someone would bust in and demand that the praises cease! She reminded me what was important. Jesus and Him crucified for the sins of us all.
Do I â€œdemonstrateâ€ against my own sin just as I do the sins of others? Do I work out my salvation with fear and trembling just as I admonish others to do so?
â€œIf you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.â€ Matthew 5:47-48 (NIV)
The lectionary texts were hard for me to read today. I hope you will take time to read them. They pointed out to me that from Deuteronomy to Hebrews God has told me, His child, to love the alien, to love my enemies. Jesus showed me how to interact with sinners and it wasn’t with a voice of condemnation but with love. Let us worship our LORD who has so graciously given us freedom because of Jesus. Let us allow His Spirit to convict us in our sin and lead us to repentance. May we agree today that we need to pray for our country, its leaders, and citizens, that God’s wisdom, which He promised to all who would ask, will guide and direct us in the days to come.
God Bless the USA written and sung by Lee Greenwood (1984)