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Tag Archive | "Freedom"

Responsible freedom


Rev. Bill Johnson

Cedar Springs United Methodist

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

In the tradition of my church, there is a vital combination between personal faith and social witness. Methodist founder John Wesley was among the leaders of social reform in England during an age when living conditions in neighbor France led to massive revolt among the common people. Historians believe that the leadership of Wesley helped avoid a similar revolution in England because he addressed the conscience of his country’s government and strived for political change. 

With the mid-term election behind us now, this is a good time to pause and reflect on the relationship between faith and politics. Our Judeo-Christian heritage speaks to this. Regardless of political leanings, serious religious people are called to a higher loyalty. We believe that our job is to find God’s word in our culture, and align our words and actions with God’s eternal truths. The Old Testament prophets are our model, as they spoke for God in their day…the shepherd Amos marched from his fields in Tekoa to Jerusalem with a vision of a wall and a plumb line hanging beside it. God’s desire was the straight plumb line, and the wall was crooked. “Seek the Lord and live…you that turn justice to wormwood and bring righteousness to the ground.” Amos didn’t win favor with Kings when he spoke for God with those words, but they were words of truth. 

But here’s the thing: In this super-charged political year, it is tempting to believe that one candidate or another has God on their side. The reality is that God has no “side,” but compassion, truth and justice. God’s bias is with equality for all people, no matter what their political ties. Justice and peace are not the possession of any human; they are signs of God’s reign. Without them, God is grieved. With them, human action has painted a picture of the Kingdom realized.  

We can be grateful that we live in a nation that gives power to the common people. We must believe we can make a difference, or we will not achieve the equality our founders saw in establishing our union. Whether our political leanings draw us toward the right, the left or the middle is not as critical as a commitment to sharing responsibility for preserving the rights of all people. People of every faith are obligated to look for God at work in the world, and then speak and act as those who believe God can actually influence human history. Like Amos our job is to announce our understanding of God’s word, and vote our conscience. When we have done that, we have been faithful to our obligation to practice responsible freedom. If you voted this year, you did your part. 

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You Will Be Free


by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

Before and during the US Civil War, tens of thousands of slaves made their way out of slavery on what was nicknamed the Underground Railroad. It was a secret escape from the Deep South. The slaves were assisted by people known as “conductors,” who transported their precious cargo by clandestine means, all the dangerous miles to freedom. And it was Ms. Harriet Tubman who was the greatest single conductor in the history of the Underground Railroad.

An escaped slave herself, Tubman was responsible for leading nearly a thousand people to freedom. And though she journeyed deep into slave territories many times with a huge bounty on her head, she was never caught. She said, “I did something most train conductors can’t never say. I never run my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” She credited her success to two things. First, she believed she was protected by God. And second, once a slave came into her custody, no matter how afraid or demoralized that person might become, she never let them return to their chains. She would say to them, with all the resolve her five-foot frame could muster, “You will be free…or you will die.”

This has been the motto of freedom fighters from Harriet Tubman and Patrick Henry to William Wallace and Nelson Mandela. Of course, who can think of freedom without hearing the iconic words of Dr. King: “When we let freedom ring…we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children…will be able to join hands and sing, ‘Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’”

Freedom is God’s intention for all of his children; for all people. What God has lovingly planned and what Jesus has dramatically accomplished is far more than a change in the human perspective; it is an actual change of status. It is more than the alleviation of the feeling of hopelessness; it is the alleviation of actual hopelessness. It is not psychosomatic therapy; it is actual rescue from slavery, in all its varied forms—spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical. All aspects of captivity are eradicated in the liberty of Christ. In the elegant words of Placide Cappeau, “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease.” Put more bluntly, “You will be free.” May it be so.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me. 

 

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