Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Devotional 030810

Dear brothers and sisters,

Good morning. It is a blessing to have sunshine in Burlingame where I worked. I could not believe that I had to turn on my heater as I drove to work – a cold summer of San Francisco as usual. Gradually I recovered from jetlag and was able to resume my study at night. Praise the Lord! Please pray that I am able to focus on my home work after dinner. I attempted to finish all my course work within this year. Thus, I have to face the consequence of this decision (out of my free will) in the next couples of months, which is hard work after hard work… Trust that my Lord will give me sufficient grace to handle this challenge.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you (Galatians 5:1). The world had seen succession of political and social revolutions that had featured the word freedom. Especially in the Western world, but hardly confined there, aspirations to freedom were very strong. But when I looked at the people I was living with in church – fairly affluent, well educated, and somewhat knowledgeable about the Christian faith – I realized how unfree they were. They were buying expensive security systems to protect their possessions from burglary. They overcome with anxieties in the face of economic depressions. They were pessimistic about the prospects for justice and peace in a world bristling with sophisticated weapons systems and nuclear devices. They were living huddle worried, defensive lives. I wanted to shout in objection: Don’t live that way! You are Christians! Our lives can be a growth into freedom instead of a withdrawal into anxious wariness.

Instead of shouting I returned to my regular round of work – preaching and teaching, visiting and counseling, praying and writing, encouraging and directing—but I was determined to seek ways in which I could awaken a hunger and thirst for the free life among people who had lost an appetite for it, and then, having awakened the appetite, to find the food and drink that would satisfy it. The more I did this, the more I became convinced that the experience of freedom in the life of faith is at the very heart of what it means to be human.

Freedom is not an abstraction, and it is not a thing. It is a gift and a skill. It is a gift that another provides; it is a skill that must be exercised by each person within the learned limits of reality. If we would understand freedom, we must be taught; if we would acquire freedom, we must be trained.

I found my best help in doing this in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Among the writers of Scripture, Paul is the specialist in matters of freedom: “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness” (Galatians 5:16-17 The Message)

The more I exercise the freedom I have in Christ, the more strength I acquire to deal with all kinds of oppositions or hardship in life. Depression or frustrations induced by relational issue can be overcome by exercising our freedom in Christ. If we build our security and joy solely on a relationship or a person, we are actually surrendering our freedom to the jurisdiction of this relationship or person. That’s why God forbids His people to worship any idols in the 10 Commandments. If we do, we will be disappointed and hurt badly through it. Don’t idolize your spouse or your boss – don’t give them the power to control your security and joy. They are not God. They cannot give you the ultimate peace and joy that you desire. Give yourself to God and worship Him alone. Amen!

Love you as fellow worshipper of Christ,


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