In the last few days, in America, the focus has been on freedom. July 4th celebrates that time when the USA gained its independence from Britain. Even though I am British, I have to admit that Americans are free to do many things that other people in the world are not free to do. Americans are free to speak their minds on any issue. They can debate a point for the betterment of their community and disagree with government policy. Americans have a freedom of religion. There is no coercion by the state to be a member of any particular religion or denomination. Americans are free to possess guns. They can carry concealed weapons in many states. The idea is that this personal right promotes freedom.
Of course, some of these freedoms have been abused. Sometimes having a different opinion is now listed as ‘hate speech’ because someone is offended by what is said. Sometimes, the freedom of religion is misapplied as freedom from religion, and religion is expunged from public life. The freedom to own a gun means that I am not free from mentally unstable people owning powerfully destructive tools.
Freedom in Christ is the foundation for all other freedoms. We are slaves to sin by default, but if we follow the path of Christ we find that we are free to make genuine choices for good. This freedom is a special gift and should be celebrated. Maybe there should be some fireworks for that.
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
- Why has Christ set people free?
- What happens to those Galatians who try and earn God’s favour through circumcision?
- What does God hope will happen to those promoting the cutting off of the foreskin?
- How do you feel about the strength of Paul’s language?
- How would you describe your feelings about people’s efforts in the church to work their way toward God?