Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Liberation from Segregation

Liberation from Segregation

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28).

We all need to love and be loved that’s a fact! Inwardly we long for those rear moments of intimate heart-to-heart conversations, but often find this difficult to fulfil. For the fortunate few perhaps, we have one or two friends with whom to share in-depth thoughts. But often we are not free to love as we would like, bound by childhood hurts, irrational fears, constraints of selfishness, legalism and all the social conditioning from the world around us, helps to inhibit our freedom to love others and to be loved by them. Our ability to simply “enjoy” others is sadly but unquestionably limited.

"At the heart of the need for liberation is a longing to break free - free to love, free to be with others, to listen and cherish them. What we long for God also desires for us: to enjoy friendship, affection and community." (S Universal Affirmation, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992, chpt, 5.)

The reality is that after generations of invariable slavery, oppression, control and prejudice, people are not loving and conversing with one another as they should. In Galatians 3:28 Paul mentions three issues of liberation in the early church involving ethnicity, social status and gender:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

During that time, not unlike this, liberation needed to take place; barriers had to be removed for love to flow between people of different races, social classes and genders. Richard N. Longenecher, discusses this in the New Testament saying that Paul makes it plain, "We are free now to converse with people of other cultures, social positions and the opposite sex. Liberation means genuine communion and ethnic, social, gender differences do not matter. That we can engage in conversation with one another without letting the differences obstruct our relationship. When open communication happens between races, social classes and sexes, we experience a foretaste of heaven. Little children, often seem free of the racial, class and gender barriers that imprison us, and we have longings for that kind of freedom ourselves to become like little children” (Social Ethics for Today, Grand Rapids, Michi Eerdmans, 1984).

Realistically of course, achieving this kind of liberation for ourselves is purely impossible by our own efforts. Simply because there is a wide hiatus between the longing to be free and the achieving of that freedom; the solution can only be that we need God to be at work in us "both to will and to work his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13).

All mere human plans for liberation become distorted and twisted by selfishness; history alone reminds us of how revolutions that begin with a longing for freedom quickly became sabotaged when the corruptions of power set in. We can make distinctions between healthy longings for freedom at the heart of these movements and then their outworking practices.

God is on the side of freedom and is opposed to oppression, prejudice and patriarchy. Therefore we regard liberation movements initially in a favourable way. We try to include them in our understanding of what God is doing in the world. But at the same time, we insist that particular longings for freedom can only be satisfied in the bigger picture of God's liberation found in the gospel.

For Paul, freedom begins in the heart and is made possible by the Spirit. Liberation begins with the freedom to engage in conversation with the three persons of the Trinity and with the neighbours we encounter. Through the Spirit there is power to overcome the bondage of the will and to be free for intimate conversation, not only with God but also across barriers of class, race and gender.

Spiritual reality is needed or all aspects of liberation, whether personal, social or political. We are all loved and forgiven because God's grace for sinners is unconditional. The opportunity to be free among other free human beings, knowing that we are loved and forgiven before we even begin - this is good news.

The beauty of this is that God is patient in His liberating of us. The apostle Paul expresses his gratitude to God in freeing him, even though he was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence.

In 1 Timothy 1: 12 - 14 we read, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

He says that he (Paul) received divine mercy because he had acted ignorantly in unbelief and that mercy overflowed into his life and changed him completely. God's search for us is most patient and merciful. One may say no to God a thousand times and still be forgiven and bathed in resurrection life!

Father I thank You that at the heart of it you understand our need for connectedness. In the beginning You said that it was not good for man to be alone. We need each other... Thank You that through all the political and social boundaries that we find ourselves trapped in, You are able to break us free! Those the Son set free are free indeed!

Today I choose to remember the goodness of God, who set me free from all restrictions and the multiple tentacles of control. Through God alone have I tasted true freedom, and by His Spirit I continually surrender to the one who is able to keep me free. “...wherever the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty!” (2 Corinthians 3:17)


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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