Freedom

The passage below is taken from Eugene Peterson’s introduction to Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, either putting or keeping them “in their place.” The history of such religious manipulation and coercion is long and tedious. It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms experience release or escape from it as freedom. The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short-lived.

Paul of Tarsus was doing his diligent best to add yet another chapter to this dreary history when he was converted by Jesus to something radically and entirely different—a free life in God. Through Jesus, Paul learned that God was not an impersonal force to be used to make people behave in certain prescribed ways, but a personal Savior who set us free to live a free life. God did not coerce us from without, but set us free from within.

It was a glorious experience, and Paul set off telling others, introducing and inviting everyone he met into this free life. In his early travels he founded a series of churches in the Roman province of Galatia. A few years later Paul learned that religious leaders of the old school had come into those churches, called his views and authority into question, and were reintroducing the old ways, herding all these freedom-loving Christians back into the corral of religious rules and regulations.

Paul was, of course, furious. He was furious with the old guard for coming in with their strong-arm religious tactics and intimidating the Christians into giving up their free life in Jesus. But he was also furious with the Christians for caving in to the intimidation.

His letter to the Galatian churches helps them, and us, recover the original freedom. It also gives direction in the nature of God’s gift of freedom—most necessary guidance, for freedom is a delicate and subtle gift, easily perverted and often squandered.

Peterson, Eugene H.. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language . The Navigators. Kindle Edition.

You cannot serve God and Mammon

The bible says, quite rightly of course, that money answers all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19). It also says that the love of it is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).

Jesus was completely unconcerned about having or not having money. He was supremely confident in His Father’s care and so wasn’t bothered when He ran out or who looked after His money. In Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus’ and Peter’s tax is due.

Every October I have to make sure I have enough money to pay the taxes that fall due on that day for the previous year. So I can imagine what it would be like to come to that day and not have a penny to give. But was He bothered?

No, first He says He and Peter shouldn’t be paying this tax anyway and secondly, a fish had swallowed a coin some time ago which He knew was available for them on the first bite of Peter’s line.

And then there was the small matter of who He told to look after His money – a thief who would betray Him – Judas (see John 12:6 and 13:29).

Oh, that I could be so trusting and so free from the love of money!

Tearing apart the Lion of Judah

Samson tore apart a lion of Judah in the Old Testament.  I don’t think anything is ever put in the Bible by accident.  A lot of the OT foreshadows things in the NT.

So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah.

Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.

Judges 14:5-9

You could see Samson as a representation, or a picture in a shadow, of the powers that were at work to crucify Jesus, the Lion of Judah.  As we know the honey of our salvation and healing, something sweet, came from that death also.  Like Samson, we too need to take the honey out of the death of Jesus.

Under authority

When Jesus was twelve years old, he went up to Jerusalem with His family and stayed behind doing His Father’s business (Luke 2:41-52).  The trouble was that His earthly father and mother didn’t understand that.  They didn’t know that at 12 He was ready to start His ministry.

It would have been a challenge to me to have let my 12 year old son or daughter start his or her ministry especially if it meant they stayed behind on a trip we were on without letting me know .  But I hope I would recognise that they had a ministry if I saw it and that I would pray to God for wisdom on what to do.

It is interesting to speculate what could have happened if Joseph and Mary had let Jesus carry on His Father’s work at 12.  Would He have been crucified at 16?

We will never know because, as it says in v.51, He was subject to His earthly guardians.

To this day the age of majority among orthodox Jews is 30.  So for 18 years He waited, while His parents didn’t understand, until He was no longer legally under their authority.  No doubt this was part of His learning process as it says in Hebrews 5:8.  They still didn’t understand after He was 30.  But at that stage He could minister and still be righteous according to the law He had made Himself subject to.

Teenagers these days can be happy that majority occurs at 18.  But will they stay submitted to their parents even for that long?

Dissenting

I am a bible believing Christian. As a result of reading the bible many people like us over many centuries and in many cultures have concluded that aspects of the Sacrifice of the Mass are in flat contradiction to what the bible says.

For instance, the writer to the Hebrews says that there was one sacrifice for sins for all time, that is, Christ’s death on the cross back in about 33 AD on a hill in present day Israel (see Hebrews 10:1-18). He goes on to say that there is therefore no more need for other sacrifices. Yet the Roman Catholic doctrine clearly teaches that the priests participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass are sacrificing Christ afresh every time it is carried out.

Again, the Roman Catholic mass includes transubstantiation during which only a Roman Catholic priest has the power to change a piece of bread and a cup of wine into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus.

Many who call themselves Christians and who read the Bible have concluded that this is nonsense at best and priest craft and blasphemy at worst.

I am of those who believe that this doctrine is a hindrance to people encountering the living Christ through the Holy Spirit in true spiritual communion. We believe that Jesus clearly intended what He said in John 6 that His words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood are spirit and life (v. 66) and not to be taken literally. Cannibalism in any culture is rightly regarded as abhorrent but yet this is what Roman Catholics are taught to do with God’s Son!

There is a long tradition of dissenters that can be read in such books as E.H. Broadbent’s “The Pilgrim Church” or of Protestants which can be read about in the various volumes of D’Aubigne’s “History of the Reformation” and other textbooks.

I would advise everyone that you read some of these books rather than being led by the nose by a clergy that has been revealed in recent times to be as corrupt as it ever was in the days of the Borgias.

That is not to say that individual priests are all tarred with the same brush. Many of them, including no doubt the ones local to you are well meaning people with good intentions. However we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

My parent’s families on both sides going back many generations are Roman Catholic and if we didn’t go to Mass sometimes we would have to avoid funerals, marriages and christenings. However we remain sitting when others kneel during the transubstantiation part of the mass and we avoid taking the bread and wine. Not that it is anything but bread and wine but we don’t want to show approval of something which we disagree with so fundamentally.