History is the story of freedom….human freedom….
freedom as it is experienced between persons,
freedom as it is experienced between ourselves and God.
Within all of us there is a desire, a longing, a need for freedom.
Our current day struggles are nothing new.
Yes, different people, different times, but the same underlying theme: freedom….
freedom from danger and harm, freedom from tyranny and oppression, freedom from fear.
Freedom to pursue our wants, our needs, our hopes, our dreams.
Freedom from control. Freedom to be ourselves.
Freedom to live as we see fit. Freedom to think for ourselves. Freedom to choose.
Political history, social history, religious history
are all driven by the quest, the desire for freedom.
Adam and Eve sin because they have the freedom to do so.
One of the first things God does in the history of His people
is free them from slavery and oppression.
Your history, my history, our family history, our community history
is what it is because of the presence or absence of freedom,
because of choices that are made in freedom.
The story of our spiritual lives is the story of our freedom.
The greatest lesson in life, the most significant part of educating our children
is to teach them how to manage their freedom, how to protect their freedom,
how to live within their freedom.
We are here, right now, in this place, at this time, because of freedom.
And what are we doing?
Are we moaning and groaning, complaining, feeling sorry for ourselves?
Are we plotting and planning…you know…thinking how we’re going to resolve this problem,
or tend to that responsibility, or looking for the easiest way to get what we want?
Are we worrying? Are we anxious?
Are we occupied with our pains, our burdens, our fears, our losses?
Are we looking for immediate gratification?
Are we seeking what is needed to remain committed over the long haul?
Jesus Christ came into this world to bring freedom.
He suffered, died on the cross, rose from the dead for the sake of freedom, our freedom.
His teachings, his example, his life…these are about freedom….
how to live out our freedom in life-giving, dignified, respectful, responsible ways;
ways that conform with God’s will, God’s plan, God’s love.
Salvation is freedom from sin and evil and death.
To be saved is to be free in the truest sense of the word.
In today’s gospel Jesus encourages his disciples:
“In me, you have the freedom to contribute, to add something good,
to be something essential and substantial for the good of the world.
Salt and light are not trivial matters.
Without salt and light human life is not possible.
Your faith in me, and in the God who sent me, is essential to life.”
Life without love, forgiveness, mercy…
life without concern for our neighbor’s well-being…
life without cooperation, without submission to the greater good…
is not life as much as it is mere existence.
Now the only reason we have salt and light to give, to provide for others,
is because it has been provided to us.
The Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is the salt and light of Christ.
Lest we become inflated with self-importance,
we need to remain conscious of the fact that any blessings we bring to the history of the world
are blessings that find their source in God.
In the newspaper comic section, the cartoon “Garfield” this past Thursday or Friday
Jon Arbuckle says “The world will remember me…”
I imagine that as people came across this line an inner voice said
“Yes. That’s what I want. I want the world to remember me.”
By comparison, all the enlightened Christians, all those with spiritual sight,
(hopefully that’s you and me) said “wait a minute. I don’t care if the world remembers me.
I want God to remember me. I believe God remembers me.
Even if no one else recognizes or appreciates the good that I do,
I know that God does. And God’s reward is eternal.”
The salt and light we receive from Christ are a means to an ends
and it’s not the glorification of “me”.
Jesus calls us to use our freedom, to commit our freedom, to dedicate our freedom
to his cause, his mission, his ends…the glorification of God.
Who re-established order after the fall of Rome to the barbarians? the Christians.
Who preserved and protected the knowledge and wisdom of the world
during the dark ages in European history? the Christians.
Who buried most of the dead during the black plague in Europe? the Christians.
Who established universities and promoted education as a way of improving
culture and society? the Christians.
Who runs the most hospitals, promotes human dignity and respect, justice and peace,
who puts food in the bellies of the poor? the Christians.
Salt and light.
Don’t let the propaganda discourage you.
There are many people who want to use their freedom for evil purposes.
And they try to bend civil laws, public opinion, and human passion to such ends.
And yes, in the name of Christianity, under the banner of Christianity,
sin has been committed, both individually and institutionally.
Some are motivated to deny or dismiss in order to protect the memory of the church.
Others are motivated to overstate and exaggerate and to falsely represent
so as to cause harm to the church.
There’s middle ground where wrongs are recognized in truth
and then righted through amends, reconciliation, rebirth, rededication
and renewal of vision.
Salt and light.
In freedom, we have the power and capacity to make adjustments….
use less salt, add more salt; dim the light, brighten the light.
This makes us unique within creation. Animals don’t have this power or capacity.
However, we cannot fulfill the purpose of Jesus Christ simply by being ourselves.
We cannot be our own salt. We cannot be our own light.
Otherwise we run the risk of becoming a world of one,
cut off from but constantly bumping into countless other worlds of one.
We become a crowd, a mob,
that has no guiding force but self; no common vision, no shared purpose.
There is a price for our common purpose under Christ:
we have to submit our freedom to Him.
I’m not here to tell you what to do.
I realize this is a disappointment to some.
I am here to remind you: you have the freedom to choose,
the freedom to live….
You can choose to live within the mindless mob,
have your freedom directed by selfish and self-centered interests.
You can choose to live in faith with others who live in faith…
have your freedom directed by God’s spirit.
You can live so as to achieve the ends of self-glorification,
or the glorification of some other human being or some ideology.
Or you can live so as to give glory to God, and God alone.
The history of our lives is determined by our freedom.
Appreciate your freedom. Use it well.
Today’s Prayer: “O Lord, with Your right hand hold us fast. Through Jesus Your Son, bestow upon us a faith that tastes like salt and acts as light. May this faith govern our will so as to devote our freedom to eternal ends. Amen!”