A Word about the Word
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. [Galatians 5:13]
There’s a lot of talk these days about freedom. The Bible is quite clear that in Christ we have “freedom.” Freedom from what? Free from being enslaved to the detailed demands of the Law. Free from having to say “yes” to our carnal habits. Freedom to what? Free to enjoy an unobstructed fellowship with God. And free to love and serve other people as my neighbors.
It’s naïve and unfortunately en vogue to believe that freedom means “I can do whatever I like without any restraint or without fearing any adverse consequences.” Life, especially in the context of relationships, doesn’t work that way. I’d like to eat a pint of Mitchell’s ice cream eight days a week without putting on a pound. Sorry, life doesn’t work that way. I’d like to blast my Beatles music through my Bose speakers all hours of the night. Sorry, relationships don’t work that way. A train might long to be free of those restrictive tracks, but that won’t work either.
The prolific Scottish commentator William Barclay said it well: “Christian freedom does not mean being free to do as we like; it means being free to do as we ought.”
Close to Home
I was chatting recently with a member of the Trinity praise band whose spiritual heritage was a Methodist one. It reminded me of John Wesley (one of the “founders” of Methodism) and the stress he put on discipleship and meaningful interaction among believers. Wesley believed Christians needed to meet together in such a way that they would become confident to share their goals and problems as well as pray and care for one another in small groups, all in such a way that they grow into true Christlikeness. A timeless concept and one Trinity desires for all of us through our small groups and discipleship ministry.
These 18 months of COVID adjustments caused us and many other churches to hone their “livestreaming” skills. Many people were able to “participate” in church worship services even through various stages of lockdown. Trinity intends to maintain our livestream option, but we also know the unplanned consequences of having part of the church family remain virtual. From literally losing touch with each other, to many forgoing the Lord’s Table, to a shrinking ministry partner team (which is why we presently only offer kids classes at 11:00am)—the option of livestream has added significant challenges to doing church ministry well. The Gospel Coalition Editor-in-Chief says as much in his Sunday New York Times editorial.
The World as It Is
Now that the Olympics are over: Did you know that hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout the world were praying for the Games, the athletes, and the country of Japan? From small towns to the largest Christian TV station in Brazil; from the elderly in Malaysia to children in Africa. From churches in India committing to 50,000 hours of prayer to a Korean group signing up people to pray seven hours a day for Japan…34,000 hours over one week! A group of cyclists committed to pray during their 10,000-kilometer ride while a Japanese church ran a 17-day prayer relay. All of this resulted in hundreds of thousands of people praying fervently for Japan and for the Games. A Christian Olympian from Brazil wrote a note of thanks: “Thank you for your prayers! There is something supernatural going on here. I can’t even describe it.”
Bless all who worship You, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same. Of Your goodness, give us; with Your love, inspire us, by Your spirit guide us; by Your power, protect us; in Your mercy receive us now and always. Amen.
I’ll catch you on the other side.