Freedom

We consider ourselves a free people. But, what is freedom? Freedom really has no meaning except in contrast to its opposite. In a political context it means not being subjected to tyranny or oppression. In a social context it means not being bound by convention or peer pressure. When we speak of religious freedom we mean the ability to practice our faith and worship according to our own understanding and conscience without interference or threat.

Christ, Who Is Our Life

People define themselves in different ways. For example, one person might think of himself as an athlete. In his own mind, that’s who he is. Someone else might think of himself as a businessman. He defines himself in terms of his business. Yet another person might define herself as a mother. She is wrapped up in her children. We all tend to pigeonhole, not only ourselves, but each other by physical characteristics, personality traits or career choices.

Our Mediator

The concept of rights is extremely prevalent in our American culture. To an extent our whole society is founded on the concept of rights. It is enshrined in phrases like “inalienable rights” which is found in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution contains the Bill of Rights. We are conditioned to think of our rights. The problem with rights is that they demand. If something is a right then, by definition it (whatever it happens to be, from the right of assembly to women’s rights) belongs to us. We get quarrelsome when someone does not recognize that something is ours.

A Living Parable

Just before He died, Jesus taught His disciples an interactive parable. True, the Scriptures do not call it a parable. But Jesus took some very ordinary, day-to-day items and used them to illustrate some profound spiritual truths. True, Jesus did not give this teaching in the form of a story. But nevertheless it is a living story which is still playing out in our lives today.

Outside the Box

When our children were in High School, there was a phrase that sort of became the motto or mantra of the teachers in the English Department. It was “Think outside the box!” By ‘thinking outside the box’ they did not mean original thought or thinking for oneself. What they really meant by that phrase was that they expected the kids to accept and agree with the box that the teachers themselves lived in. In the name of freedom they were asking the children to accept the bondage of the teacher’s world-view.

Transformation

One of the themes which is sounded in just about any political campaign is the need for change. Very rarely will a candidate run for office with the promise that he or she will keep things just as they are. No, the politicians promise that if we will just elect them, they will make things better; they will solve our problems; their agenda will bring peace and prosperity.

Giving Thanks

In 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 12, Paul writes about people who are perishing. They aren’t headed for destruction because of a chance or random event. They aren’t headed for destruction because of the actions of someone else. Paul writes that they are condemned because of a deliberate choice they made. What was the choice? They delighted, or took pleasure, in wickedness. Involved in this choice was not believing the truth. It’s not that they didn’t have the opportunity to know the truth; it wasn’t that the truth was beyond their capability to understand.

Christ, Our Peace

Even a casual glance at the news is enough to make you realize that there are a lot of conflicts and wars going on in the world. Depending on how you count them, there are somewhere between 10 and 30 wars going on right now. This is not unusual. A brief look at a history book tells you that war and conflict are one of the constants of human existence.

Perseverance

In writing to the Christians at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement. He says, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV) It’s not like these people didn’t already know or hadn’t already experienced God’s love. They had already accepted Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf. They had already experienced salvation. I think what Paul is saying is that they needed to develop the same kind of love that God has. They needed to demonstrate God’s love in how they lived their lives and interacted with one another.

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