Saturday, April 24, 2010

Christian Freedom freely. . . gives itself up?

I love Christian Freedom. I think it is something that we don't talk enough about - something that has gotten a somewhat dirty name because folks contradict the Scriptures under the guise of a "Christian Freedom" which is neither Christian nor Freedom (for anything doing with sin is always in fact slavery to sin). This does not change that Christian Freedom - the variety of good, God pleasing choices in our lives that we have before us - is one of the most wondrous (and sometimes intimidating) gift we have.

But here is something we can forget about Christian Freedom. Christian Freedom often freely gives itself up.

So here I sit, Saturday morning. Me bride still dozes. Out of love for God and her, out of my Christian Freedom, I gave my ascent and was bound to her in holy matrimony. That means I gave up some of my freedom. . . freely. The Super-awesome vacation. . . well, unless I can swing it for two, it doesn't get to happen (and instead, I get the joy of road-trips, or flying stand-by on the airline her dad works for). I'm not galvanting today on plans of my own whims - we probably will go to Stillwater (STILLWATER! ACK! The belly of the BEAST!) because an author she likes will be there for a signing this afternoon. And thus I go, freely - and freely giving up the other options that I might have done.

To join yourself to another means you give up your freedom freely.

This plays out in the Church. To join a congregation means that you give up your freedom. We tend to think of Church politics in terms of power and votes -- we shouldn't. When one joins a congregation, one pledges to support that congregation, not dominate it. You will not always have your way - nor should you. This holds true for a pastor as well. If I had my druthers, Church would be at 8 am, bible study afterwards and done by 10:30 - then home for Sunday afternoon sports. But that is not the custom of this congregation, nor would it necessarily benefit this congregation - so I'll probably be starting service (instead of brunch) at 10:45 for a long, long time. And that, in truth, is good.

This also ought to play out in the Synod. There are many things that congregations themselves could do - but unless you are independent, you are part of a larger group. In our case - the Missouri Synod - thus we have bound ourselves to certain things. We have agreed only to use Synodically approved hymnals -- so that means LSB, LW, TLH, or the various suppliments -- I'm not going to pull things from elsewhere. It means that I don't get to "ordain" an elder here and have him do word and sacrament ministry under my supervision and direction. . . even though that is valid Scripturally. We forgo that freedom for the sake of being in this Synod.

We forget that freedom means that often we freely give up some options to join together. We ought remember this.

1 comment:

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Very, very well said! Thanks for the reminder.