Today’s Bible readings can be found here: Isaiah 66:12-24 and 2 Corinthians 3:1-18.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (NIV)
In today’s society, when we speak about freedom, we normally mean being able to do what we want. We think about it as our personal right to be fiercely independent and woe betide anyone or any institution, authority, or government that gets in our way. Some folks are really aggressive when it comes to defending their rights to maintain their freedom, but what they are really doing is not allowing anything or anyone to interfere with their individual preferences. They might even use today’s scripture or similar verses to back up their claims, especially if they consider themselves to be strong Christians.
However, what the Apostle Paul meant by freedom and what we may mean today are very different. We tend to revise what was once written in order to suit our ‘freedom’ to interpret scripture as we please. But the times and society that Paul was living in were completely dissimilar to what we know today, so in order to correctly understand and apply this Biblical concept of freedom, we need to seriously look at its context.
For a start, Paul was writing to a small Greek congregation that existed in a society full of slaves and conquered people. Most of the churches that Paul wrote to were made up of a diverse population of all classes and ethnic origins. Each believer existed under the totalitarian rule of the Roman emperor; some of the first Christians were wealthy merchants whereas others were the lowliest slaves. This means that when Paul was writing about freedom, he wasn’t expressing it in terms of individual, economic, political, or personal rights; the apostle was writing about a spiritual liberty where believers would be free from the eternal consequences of sin and restored to God’s everlasting favor, so that all of them could serve God faithfully, cheerfully, and above all, freely. Paul was not writing about establishing individual rights or personal preferences; he was encouraging the Corinthian Christians to freely give their lives over to God in order to advance Christ’s mission.
So, this Biblical idea was not a case of doing what Christians individually wanted; it was the spiritual freedom to do what God fully intended for their lives.
Points to Ponder: When I think about freedom is it all about me or God? Do I honestly serve Him freely or just when it’s personally convenient?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us about what freedom is. Forgive us for aggressively maintaining our personal preferences and individual rights, instead of faithfully serving You freely. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Today’s image is one of John’s drawings called “Free Spirit.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.