21 August 2010

Fitting it together: Faith, Freedom and Failure

Every family has its "inside" jokes. We quote a foreign-born convenience store manager who told my husband in disgust, "They do not know the meaning of freedom!" We have a mental image of my husband whipping out his pocket dictionary to look its meaning up. Of course, we only remember it because there is an element of truth in the statement.
Chesterton said once that people fear not the limitations that Christianity would bring so much as the responsibilities. I would guess they fear both. The a-relgious and the anti-religious crowds both tend to create their own limitations because man is pre-disposed to please someone. If he has no god, he drifts towards pleasing a crowd, a habit (usually a vice), or fixing on a superstition, and so on.
But, for a Christian, freedom is pretty carefully outlined in the scriptures. In fact, Luther has been quoted as saying love God, love your neighbor and then do as you please. Sounds easy, doesn't it? But, if you understand the scriptures (as Luther did), you realize he is talking about adult-sized living.
Contrary to popular belief, Christian freedom is not flopping around, being groovy. And, contrary to American thought, freedom is not a virtue.
Freedom itself has no content, it is inert, and it can be amorphous. But, when a conscience is informed and guided by the love of God, it does good to others. It is then we can see freedom exhibited as God would have it expressed—and at its highest form.
For the Christian, faith is the frame, life is the picture we paint within it. God has given each of us a mission: to paint the best picture for our worldwide—and our heavenly—audience. But we must remember that no masterpiece was ever finished without some errors. And this is how we can understand the preciousness of liberty in Christ—we have the liberty to fail in our efforts.

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