Monday, October 7, 2013

Freedom in Christ

Bunch of bullies! That's what I was thinking as my friend told me about some recent conversations in her life. She fits the classic profile of a homeschooler, yet she and her husband carefully, prayerfully, for their own good reasons send their kids to public school. I'm a Christian, submissive wife and dedicated mom (at least I try), college-graduate and I work at least half-time.  That's a decision my husband and I made together. We feel strongly that my work is for the Kingdom and that it's good and right. I know that people disagree. I know that women especially are tempted to a subtle, divisive and smiling sort of comparison that leaves the victim wondering, "Did they mean to be unkind?" It happens; we've written before about it. (You're With UsImaginary JudgesParty Pooper).  

However, recently I have seen less and less grace. Homeschoolers who present a polished view of their home-life looking down their noses at their sisters helping kids with homework. Women, who have chosen to wear only skirts and dresses, casting the fish eye on their sister in her modest pants.   Women who after prayer and study go back to work condemned or condemning. Relaxed moms rolling their eyes at the conscientious ones who forbid TV, internet, and games to their tots. Women who are satisfied with their one or two children blasted on a blog by those who cheerfully accept all the children God will give to them. We won't even stray over to the graceless way we pursue political ends or make health and environmental decisions regarding our children.

Recently my Bible reading took me through Galatians and I saw what I had before dismissed as "making a mountain out of a molehill" as actual sin. Listen to Paul's words:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Paul insists that we are free in Christ.  Part of that freedom is freedom of conscience.  As long as we are living in his Holy Spirit we are free to pursue God with all our hearts. What we are not free to do is be enslaved (or worse enslave others) to some form or function, some good idea, which God never commanded.  Paul puts it this way...
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?  You observe days and months and seasons and years.  I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. (Galatians 4:9-10)

Did you hear him?  He wonders if their desire to live according to some external principle, some kind of law or calendar, has turned them away from God.  He thinks their faith might be "in vain!"
Broad chain closeup
We're not talking about "soap boxes" or "her thing." Paul calls it slavery.  Could I be so sure that my way is the best way, that I trust in my "issue" instead of in my Savior? Could I believe that if I just homeschool my kids, dress them a certain way or throw away my TV that I can assure their salvation?  Or worst of all has someone who wanted to know Christ been introduced instead to my ideas? 
With these words, Paul demands that they accept that their unity is in Christ not some external issue:
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.(Galatians 3:27-28)
He might as easily have said, "There is neither stay at home or working mom, there is neither homeschool or public school mom, there is neither fertile nor infertile, single nor married woman for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  
I have pet issues like everybody else.  I homeschool and I feel great about it.  I work and I feel great about that too!  But I am learning to be gracious and like Paul to fiercely protect my sisters right to pursue God in the freedom and unity Christ died for!
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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