Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“The Christian individual is a completely free Lord of all, subject to none. The Christian individual is a completely dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” -Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian
Can we be two things at once? Dear ol’ Martin Luther certainly thought so. And there is deep wisdom in the quote that appears above.
It all starts with our freedom in Christ. As those who have been washed in the waters of baptism, as those who have been impacted by God’s grace, we know the real power of forgiveness. We are emboldened by our trust in the inexhaustible love of God. Christ is our Lord, and it is to God that we offer our complete allegiance. No one else and nothing else can take primacy in our lives. Indeed, subject to none but Christ alone!
But this radical freedom does not exist for its own sake, and it certainly is not a spiritual luxury meant to inspire self-righteous arrogance. Certainly not! Our freedom in Christ is always meant to draw us into a deeper commitment to our neighbor. After having experienced true unconditional love, and after having been loved so completely, there is simply no way we can take this force for good for granted. And so naturally, those who have known the best of freedom, know the lasting joy of servanthood.
And, truly, in the context of the Christian life, you simply cannot have one without the other. Love without servanthood is incomplete. Servanthood without love is sure to become a burden.
We commemorate Reformation Weekend not because we’re stuck in the past, not because we are unhealthily prideful of our Christian tradition, and certainly not to fill up the calendar. We commemorate this important day because the joy and energy we experience in our time together will be a source of inspiration that compels us to serve a world in need.
Question for reflection: What does freedom in Christ mean to you?
Yours in Christ,
Gracious Lord, change is a constant and as disconcerting as it can be, we also trust that amid it all, you are leading us toward a deeper understanding of your truth for our lives. May we forever be seeking you and your kingdom, the kingdom that - thanks to your amazing grace - is ours forever. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.