Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christian Freedom and Daily Life

I admit it. My interests lie in a whole lot of cseemingly contradictory areas. For instance, I’m a liturgical/sermon nut. I’ll read, listen to, and download a bunch of chants and sermons each week. But, my playlist doesn’t stop there. Yes, I dip into the music of such luminaries as Katie Perry or Billy Joel and (my favorites) Van Halen (DLR at the lead vocals) and .38 Special. I believe very strongly in the third commandment, which says “Honor The Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” Yet, my love for sports craves any college or pro game that fills the TV/radio airwaves on Sunday or any other day of worship. I don’t care if there’s too many bowl games. I’d watch them all if I had time. Yet, part of the reason I don’t is I bury my head in books—theological, political and a lot of techno-thriller fiction. It comes down to Christian freedom, I think. (Gal. 5:13) The Divine Service (and any other form of corporate worship), Holy Scripture, and great hymns are all gifts from God. So are people’s daily vocations—whether that be working or lurking the graveyard shift in an office, teaching in a classroom, rocking out on a stage, or shooting hoops for a living. Part of sports is the business angle just as part of politics is the partisan filibuster. The point of living free in the gifts God gives is receiving them in our lives without compulsion. Legalism of any kind puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable. (emphasis mine) Yet, license is equally just as bad if we take stuff too far. Okay, I can be guilty of this, too. Most of my sin of license is flaunting my Christian freedom with a big old grin on my face. And, what is license? Abusing the gifts our Lord gives us. If we don’t come to corporate worship, we are taking license in our absence from it. If we constantly flee from eating and drinking the Sacrament often (1 Cor. 11:26), we miss an opportunity for Christ to give us all of Himself and His forgiveness. If we habitually flee from God’s house for the Big House or any other sports shrine, we play fast and loose with the freedom God gives us. Yet, does that mean we are being irreverent by buying season tickets to the Indianapolis Colts or Denver Broncos games? No. Many churches offer multiple times for worship. And, we aren’t tied down to just one. Oh, drat, that means someone may sit in the pew I think has my name on it. Eeeeeek! Lol So, as I write this blog, I’ve got Sunday night football going and yet I’ve indulged myself, simultaneously in studying liturgics. Yet, what do we do in those times our conscience tweeks us with a supposed reality check. Hmmm. Check the Scriptures. Get convicted by God’s Law and freed again by His Gospel. Okay, let me take liberty here to admit something I’ve mulled around in my head for sometime. I believe the decline in church attendance doesn’t just result from external enticement. More than that, I think it results from a confusion people have over the issue of Christian freedom. Contrary to a pop-American assumption, Christian isn’t a matter of keeping rules and avoiding certain pet practices. It’s a matter of God’s grace that, first of all, saves us free for the trusting in Him and, secondly, teaches us to say “no” to things that hinder our faith. (Titus 2:11-14) Newsflash: We all have the need to repent of saying “yes” to whole lot of things that dissuade our faith. No, it’s not younger generation irritating the older folks or the older folks not understanding the younger generations. We’re all guilty of straying like lost sheep. (Is. 53:7) Yet, our loving, heavenly Father has put all the burden of our sin and guilt—our licentious abuse of Christian freedom—on His eternal Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Our hope aligns with that of the apostle John’s first epistle, written that we may not sin. Yet, what do we know for sure when we do sin? WE have an advocate in Jesus Christ, doing the will of our heavenly Father—forgiving our sins day in and day out. That’s the confidence in which we Christians long to live. It’s the confidence into which our Lord drowns our sinful nature first at Baptism. It’s the confidence He speaks to us in private and public absolution. It’s the confidence He distributes to us in His body and blood—“in, with and under the bread and wine, given for us Christians to eat and drink.” (Small Catechism, VI, 1-2) I have a lot of interests and hobbies, some of which may seem contradictory by nature. So do you. What a privilege our Lord gifves us in this living, active Christian freedom now and until He comes again.

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