Monday, December 24, 2012

Political Freedom versus Freedom in Christ

The Wall Street Journal runs an editorial every Christmas Eve that first appeared in 1949. The sentiment is good and one that I could agree with for the most part.  But it also misuses Scripture in a way totally  contrary to what Paul was thinking. The title of the editorial is "In Hoc Anno Domini," and begins with Saul of Tarsus on his journey to Damascus. Tyranny in the form of the Roman Empire dominated the Mediterranean region. But into that world came light in the form of a man from Galilee. Several gospel quotations are provided and the idea that the truth would set us free. But, darkness can always return. (This was written not many years after World War II and while the iron curtain was descending). What if humankind returns to a new Caesar?

The editorial concludes with, "And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethern the Galatians, the works he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:
'Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.'"

Paul was not writing about political freedom. He was writing about spiritual freedom. While I value political freedom a great deal, I do not confuse it with our freedom in Christ. Paul typically introduced himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. In his view, all human beings are slaves--either to Christ or to sin and death. From this perspective, it mattered little whether one was a literal slave or master; the slave who was free in Christ was blessed while his master, if he was a slave to sin, was not.

As Paul said to the Corinthians, "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (I Cor. 15:19, NRSV).

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