Be Free . . . But Behave

Christianity is the single most important event in human history. It has given us an understanding of who we are as human beings and the gift of freedom that is the essence of our nature.

Think of it. First, through its older sister, Judaism, Christianity has come to know that there is one God. This one God has created the world as a reflection of his goodness. The man and the woman are the Crown of that creation and bear a resemblance to the Creator like no other creature in the universe.

In Jesus Christ we come to know our purpose in life here on earth (to love God and our neighbor as ourselves). And by his Resurrection we know that in Christ we are called to be with God forever.

This astounding fact has set us FREE. The chains of the primeval world are broken. Previous powers such as idolatry, superstition (no more rabbit’s foots!), and magic have been shown for what they are – – shadows.

The accomplishments of Christianity have changed the world, giving birth to such things as democracy, universities, science and scientific methods, medicine, modern art, farming, and charity toward the poor.

All these human developments come from two pillars of Christian faith: 1. The world is good and dependable in its existence and 2. It all finds its meaning in love.

So full of this awareness was St. Augustine that he told his students, “love . . . . then do as you want.” Jesus tells us, “Obey my teaching and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jn. 8:31

Freedom becomes like the air we breathe. In God’s plan freedom has a purpose – – to serve goodness and truth. It is responsible to its creator.

And here is the problem. All is not yet well. You see, this world, in spite of over 2000 yrs. of Christianity, is still in process.

The wound dealt to God’s creation by the free disobedience of the human race continues to affect every one of us.

And the wound? A hunger for autonomy from God, a desire to be free from any norm that requires my obedience. We all have this. Call it what you want, “my bad self”, “selfishness”, “the rebel in me”. Faith calls it “sin” . . . in you and me and the world.

Anyone over six years of age has experienced this strange and intoxicating desire. Most of us learn the hard way; we follow these impulses toward pleasure, excitement, and self-gratification till we discover that their promise of happiness was a lie.

So how do we get it right? The first thing we need to do (and if this doesn’t happen we’re lost!) is realize we have this rebel in us. (Please tell me you’ve met this part of yourself, right? That rebel . . . you!) We need to realize our love for “bread and circuses” is real, and in the end, if left unimpeded, will take us to our spiritual death. St. Paul says we “become slaves/addicts of sin”.

So what about this freedom that we have in Christ? It is to freely follow his way. Loving God and his commands and loving our neighbor as self. Simple. Not easy. We’re going to need some help here. We can’t heal our wounded spirit.

Here’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. “The Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children . . . and since we are his children we will possess with Christ what God has kept for him.” “For there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:17, 39.

Is this life of Christian Faith amazing or what?!! So be free . . . and behave yourselves.

Fr. Tim