Posted by on Jul 5, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Freedom

Dear Lord…be with us as we consider the concept of Freedom. The freedom you give to us…the meaning of the word and what it means for us. Speak to each one of us as we listen, individually, to us.

Our gospel reading for this Sunday is Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. Also, considered in this message will be the writing of Paul from Romans 7:15-25a. These verses are far from easy to determine the “why” they are being written.

In Matthew, Jesus is starting off by using an analogy that is a description of the adults of his time. He describes them as children….who are just sitting around, not dancing, not enjoying the flute being played for them nor offering sympathy to one who is sad and troubled. Part of these reactions is due to the fact that the Israeli people of that time were weighed under by rules and regulations that were tied directly to the regulations of the Jewish faith. They would not listen to Jesus.

I’m sure people felt why try to live or do anything, because it would be wrong in the face of the Pharisees. I would only get berated for living the way I felt I should. And they did not accept either John or Jesus.

Then, Jesus goes on to say that the people of the community and the church at that time talked against John the Baptist by saying he was a demon, even though he preached life in God. John did not go against the Jewish law…but the people were berating him anyway.

Jesus goes on to say that he, too, was excluded even though he was “communing” with the people. They called him a drunkard and glutton…and a friend of sinners. Jesus also puts a “human” type of reference to “wisdom”…saying that wisdom would be vindicated by her deeds.

The Jews found it hard to believe that the Messiah would suffer abuse and be crucified rather than deliver the people from their oppression and rebuild the temple. So, they listened to John and Jesus, but refused to believe the message they were bringing of God’s sovereignty.

However, there were people in the audience that DID believe Jesus’ message as well as John’s. In the eyes of the people of that time, these children were babies because they didn’t follow all of the Laws of the Torah. These people, too, were being degraded for their beliefs.

To those who believed Jesus’ words, God gave insight…which Jesus thanks God for by saying, “You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to the infants.” (verse 25). The beginning of this verse is a restatement of the first words of the Lord’s Prayer.

It is this special “power” that God is giving to both Jesus and the disciples to speak to those who listen and become part of God’s family. Jesus said that “his yoke is light”…and it is light in comparison to the Torah…that is often referred to as the yoke, also. Freedom….freedom to talk to people, accept people, welcome all people. Freedom to live for God and pass His word on to the world.

We battle against ourselves most of the time, which is what Paul is talking about in his writing to the Romans. We often don’t know why we do something we know isn’t right. Yes…we berate ourselves for this type of action and get depressed when we realize what we have done. We tell ourselves, “Why didn’t I call that person?” “Why didn’t I greet that person when I met him on the street?”

In reality, this type of thought-process is very self-centered. We have high opinions of ourselves many time…and cannot accept the fact that we aren’t always right or perfect. In one way, this type of action is more that of a battle against self. Do we sometimes try to please ourselves at the expense of others? But, it isn’t always “all about me”.

I have been thinking a lot about freedom these last couple of days. I was trying to imagine a life without freedom. Now, that is not independence…but freedom. The freedom God gives us is to be used in service to others.

What if we didn’t have the freedom to leave our house? What if we didn’t have the freedom to be able to call friends on the phone? Write them a letter? What if we didn’t have the freedom to get groceries?

However, we have been given the gift of freedom by God. This is to be used in service to others.
If we love God more than ourselves….we will do what pleases God, including loving our neighbors.

We are celebrating the freedom to care for others, to see all people as equals in the law and in the sight of God. It is serving people not because we have to (which is the law), but because we get to serve others and we want to put love into action.

Listen to Galatians 5:13: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

We find security in Jesus. We are asked by God to think first of who and how we can serve.

Dear Lord…thank you so much for the gift you give us of freedom to serve others through the love and sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for the security you offer us through your Son. Forgive us when we think of ourselves more than we think of how to help others. We know you are always with us, guiding, directing and teaching us. Thank you for all you do for us. We are your disciples. Amen

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