Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40
I’m not sure exactly why, but this year the weight of freedom – in terms of responsibility and gravitas – is very much on my mind. I am more conscious now than ever before of the price paid for what we enjoy today here in the United States and also of freedom’s fragility.
I understand, of course, that we need – always – to be vigilant. Over the past 242 years we have expanded our understanding of Constitutional liberties to include people who had been routinely excluded. We have amended the Constitution in response to changes in the way we live and what we are learning. We constantly struggle to find the right balance between positive progress and honoring what is foundational to who we are.
A lot like our faith:
Our freedoms, as my wife Rebekah pointed out so eloquently in her message July 1, are rooted in a foundation that is rock-solid and still both fluid and alive.
The freedom we have in Christ is not freedom from having to follow rules and regulations (law) but freedom from the sin that makes the law necessary. Likewise, our freedom as citizens of the United States is not license so much as responsibility.
Jesus said that if we love God with all our heart and our soul and our mind and our strength and also love our neighbor in a similar fashion, then legalism becomes unnecessary. “Everything written in the scriptures needs to be poured through the filter of this Great Commandment,” Jesus said.
As Americans we are free from tyranny, but it is not the freedom to do anything we wish, to exercise our dominance, to assert our exceptionalism, or to cash in on our greatness… no, we are free from tyranny so that we may serve and encourage and offer refuge and – gladly – bear witness to the light.
I believe it’s a lot like the way we see the Lord’s Table (communion) at our church. “Come to the table. You are welcome here. This is not a Presbyterian table but the table of Jesus. Jesus is God’s invitation. None of us qualify, all are welcome.”
“That Jesus!” Rebekah said, “he is always challenging our assumptions and making us look at everything differently…”
(All photos from July 1, 2018)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.