Life Notes—June 30, 2011
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. I am getting to know him through the biography Bonhoeffer, written by Eric Metaxas. This amazing man became a pacifist in his early adulthood, yet was intimately involved in an unsuccessful plot to murder Hitler, for which he was executed near the end of World War II. Bonhoeffer understood the Gospel and the freedom it imparts in a deeper and more self-indicting manner than most of us care to imagine.
Like most good Protestants Bonhoeffer believed we are saved by grace alone; but he further believed those who truly understand the Gospel will express their faith by changing what they do and how they live. Dietrich Bonhoeffer drew distinct lines between what he called cheap grace and costly grace. Cheap grace is accepting the gift of salvation by grace, but stopping there. Costly grace is accepting the gift of salvation AND allowing it to change you from the inside out, following wherever it leads. “Faith without works is not faith at all, but a simple lack of obedience to God.”
Bonhoeffer used the freedoms at his disposal to act where his faith led, bravely challenging Hitler from insideGermany. He lived his faith in a dangerous and uncompromising manner, certain in the righteousness of his acts, willing to die in his battle over evil. This weekend we celebrate the birth of our country, made possible by many people with similar convictions—convictions that led them to risk their reputations, their fortunes and their lives for a purpose greater than themselves.
In the passage above we, as Christians, are called to freedom ‘not as an opportunity for self-indulgence,’ but in order to become loving servants to others. The Gospel is a call to action. Attaining salvation is not the end of the journey; it is the beginning. This Independence Day I need to consider how best to use the freedoms we celebrate. If we open ourselves to the true Gospel, who knows where it might take us? Whose lives might be touched? Who knows in what ways history’s course may be altered?
This Sunday Tom will be preaching downtown. His sermon title is “Christian Freedom,” based on Galatians 5:1, 13-26. Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall. Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. The reverend Eduardo Bousson will preach at the west campus. His sermon is “The Living Paradox,” based on Matthew 11:16-19, 28-30. Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Experience the freedom of the Gospel!
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator