Freedom and Grace
Freedom has always been an important concept for Americans. The history of our nation is full of examples of people sacrificing to secure freedom for themselves and others. For generations before the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, westerners distinguished themselves from other cultures by calling ourselves leaders of the free world. “It’s a free country” has been both a statement of fact and a justification of what we do.
As valuable as our freedoms are, however, freedom of sin is not one of the freedoms guaranteed us by our national citizenship.
Paul writes in Romans 6, that without God, the only freedom from sin humans can have comes at death, when what we know comes to an end, and existence in God’s realm begins.
For believers, another new life is possible: new life in Jesus Christ. The life of faith sets us free from sin and enables us to live lies of thankful obedience rather than rebellion against God.
- How can we affirm Paul’s claim that salvation is a free, unmerited gift of God’s grace without falling prey to the tendency to minimize sin and it consequences?
- Paul states that “sin will have no dominion over you since we live “not under the law but under grace.” What difficulties do you have living out your belief or struggling with disbelief?
- Respond to this statement: Sin is not a list of things Christians are not supposed to do; sin is a condition in which all people, even believers, find themselves. What are the consequences of whichever position you take?
- You may be employed where you receive wages for the work you do and also gifts at special times. You know what it is to earn your wages. You also know the joy that comes from receiving a gift. How does this help you to understand God’s gift of salvation?
How Do I Act?
- Reflect on a recent baptism. If possible, review the bulletin from that service. If the church videos or audio tapes the services, review them. What words, images, or rituals help the new believer and the congregation experience baptism into Christ?
- Talk with your pastor and worship committee about a church renewal of baptism service. You can find resources in The Book of Common Worship.
- Plan to help the less fortunate in your community. Share new life in Christ by serving a meal in a community feeding program or soup kitchen. Or spend a night during Holy Week serving in a homeless shelter.
- Reflect on images of death and new life. Make a commitment to spend time communing with God each day this week. Read Romans 6 each day and give thanks to God for salvation and ask how to share that gift with others.