Friday, May 14, 2010

Freedom in Christ

Today's reading is taken from Paul's letter to the Galatians, which is one of the most polemical of all the New Testament writings. In the book of Acts, we read about the dispute regarding the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. Paul's letter to the Galatians deals with same dispute and Paul argues vehemently against the requirement of circumcision for Gentiles who wish to follow Christ.
Paul's main argument is the argument of freedom, specifically the freedom we have through Jesus Christ. For Paul, obedience to the law was a form of bondage and, although the law was necessary for a time, Christ has now set us free. This freedom that Paul is describing is not freedom from the moral and ethical standards that are found consistently throughout scripture, but rather freedom from the Jewish ceremonial laws and regulations. For Paul, anything that might potentially cause us to "boast in the flesh" is to be rejected. Our freedom has been made possible exclusively through the gift of Christ.
In addition, the freedom that we have through Christ does not give us license to sin. To the contrary, our lives are to be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is important to understand that we are not only free from the bondage of sin, but we are free to live a radically different kind of life. In other words, our freedom is not simply retrospective, but prospective. We are now free to walk in the Spirit and to bear the abundant fruit of the Spirit. We are now free to live authentic lives, all the while being transformed more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite passages. I really like the connection between freedom and obedience. So often we equate freedom with rebellion. However, here Paul reminds us that the freedom we gain from Christ and a life filled with the Holy Spirit would not allow us to sin. Some devout philosophers such as Descartes and Kant utilize this logic as well. But I always love reading it as presented by Paul.