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In our current pandemic world there’s an accumulation of confusion, disarray, and maybe feelings of being scared. Many are hurting from pandemic life and now grieve the loss of relationships. Not just those we’ve lost but those we have grown apart from during the pandemic due to differing political opinions. Lately, there is a growing anger as Canadian life takes on a new posture with respect to white rage that coincides with #freedomconvoys and border closures.
It feels like we’re teetering on the edge of a culturally formative or destructive moment in our country. In moments like these we ask ourselves what does it mean to be a Christian and what does it mean to be the church in the midst of chaos?
The central issue these days seems to centre around ‘FREEDOM’, and what that word means for different people. Along with FREEDOM comes another question, what does it mean to have an enemy?
In times where we search for clarity, Jesus calls us to be noticeable in these moments. Not to sit idly by, but to adopt a posture that reflects a Jesus way of life.
We begin our search in Galatians 5.
Galatians is one of the few places in the entire Bible that talks about freedom. Freedom is found once in the Old Testament, and it’s infrequently used in the New Testament. “Free” is often found, but “freedom” is not. One thing we notice right off the bat are the connections with ‘freedom’.
Freedom is about setting the captives free.
Those on the margins are being set free from oppressive forces and powers. There is no connection to our modern understanding around freedom related to individual liberties or rugged individualism.
So much of the conflict surrounding us is rooted in liberty and a freedom to do whatever one wants devoid of consequences of those actions. Most importantly it’s a demonstrative posture that opposes the way of Jesus and the gospel commandments to love one another and the other.
The Gospel call to “freedom” is unique and is being diluted, stolen, undermined by empty and fleeting associations of freedom with individual liberties. It both frustrates and saddens me….
This is difficult because I believe what God means by “freedom” is liberating. All the things that seek to make us less whole, the powers and all that aint’ right, God wants you to be set FREE from these oppressive forces. Broken relationships, of broken bodies, of marginalization, this is a specific liberation from undermining powers. It’s not a call from the powerful to retain power and privileges.
Galatians encapsulates biblical freedom; being set free from the oppressive forces. There’s a juxtaposition between the old way which is the law and then a new way that is rooted in Jesus and marked by the Spirit. Remember the historical context we talked about around Epiphany, all of God’s hope and dream to write wrongs is connected in an unchanging story. That the covenants made to Abraham are the same ones we pick up, the invitation of God’s family, and the mark of this hope that is rooted in the answer of what this freedom looks like—justice made possible through the spirit. Translated in your Bible probably is righteousness, but the physical and visible manifestation of freedom is justice.
Here is our measure of activities in our world right now. How do you know what is good? What causes are worth throwing our weight behind. What to do with people who support a TruckersConvoy? Are they right? What do they see? What do we see?
The measure is the fruit, to use a church word. The measure is what it produces. Is it a liberation for all people beginning with setting those in systemic chains free? Or is more selfish than that? This is how we measure.
This new hope, what freedom looks like, is revealed later in the chapter. The fruits of the Spirit, which many of you know, versus the opposite rife with selfish ambition. We can use this chapter to explain what is happening in real time as we discern the motives behind protest.
This brings forth the very real question of what does the activity, what is the response look like from the church in this moment now? What does it mean to discern who is our enemy, and what will we do with that new information?
Galatians speaks to some of the fruits. And Jesus has a message to us about what it means to have an enemy well.
Matt 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
In this way, who is our enemy is the wrong focus!
Jesus is pretty clear. Love your enemies. I don’t really know how, other than I know I will hold in tension the radical way of Jesus that commands us to love beyond our preference. To pray for our enemies, when we rather see them broken.
There is an ethic here that commands us to different. But in the interim, it’s still obvious that we have an enemy.
That’s what happens when you draw the line with Jesus. You stand in opposition, we become enemies to all the evil powers and systems that are built, or are trying to rebuild, that make us and those we see on the margins, LESS WHOLE.
That’s the challenge. The Gospel is God’s renewed order of things in the here and now, and it tangibly looks like embodying (touch feel) the life altering way of Jesus, day by day. Pick up his cross, day by day, in an effort to be CHURCH as living example of people FREE in the Spirit.
If there is any disruption in our lives it is God’s way of living. The convoy shouldn’t be the disruption in our lives. Jesus is the disruption.
Jesus draws us to him. Jesus has chosen a side when it comes to the margins. It is the side of the oppressed, the marginalized, the downtrodden, the poor. That’s where Jesus is, and that’s where we stand to. It’s a choosing that pits us as church in dissent to the world around us.