The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

In and around national holidays like the Fourth of July, we’re commonly reminded that “freedom isn’t free.” Most often this is a reminder of the sacrifices made by our armed forces and their families. As American Christians, we often reflect on freedom through the lens of American society and culture. But freedom is older than America or any other modern nation-state. We hear the more ancient ways of considering our freedom in the religious monastic teaching that freedom is only known through limitation.

There are limits to even our modern freedoms. Most of us can’t do and say whatever we want, whenever we want. To use an example from the Fourth of July holidays, the freedom to blast off massive amounts of fireworks in one’s driveway is limited by many cities due to noise or risk of fire. As Christians, we are meant to realize the particular type of freedom that Jesus gives us.

Jesus gives us the freedom to limit the actions or forces in our lives that keep us from loving God with our whole heart, mind, and self. We are able to set those limits – even though they are sometimes difficult to set or maintain – because we know that Jesus promises us abundant life. So even as we set a limit in our lives, we also receive greater freedom to love God more fully than we did the day before.

Is there something in your life that keeps you from loving God with your whole heart, mind, and body? What might it look like to be free, in Christ, from whatever that is in your life? God wants us to be free to pursue lives of abundant love and mercy. We are free in Christ — free to do the good things that God would intend us to do. Each of us is free in Christ to be for the world what Jesus was for the world: an agent of reconciliation and love.

Your Sister in Christ,