Working in journalism, I always admire a well-crafted headline – especially when it is paired with an arresting first paragraph. You just want to read on and find out more. Today’s passage does just that.
Paul warns readers not to return to submission to the Mosaic Law and the various beliefs and practices they’d bolted onto it.
For contemporary Christians, these words may relate to any number of issues – but they all boil down to the fundamentally right relationship between God and humanity. Whilst such freedom is an act of grace, unearned by us – we are called upon to do something.
Because of God’s love of freedom from sin, S/He has liberated us from all that had us in its thrall. Christ’s death and resurrection has sealed that deal.
At an individual level, it might have been an addiction, an unpleasant personality trait that upset others or something which resulted in direct and serious harm.
At a corporate level, it might be the conquering of what William Beveridge called the five “giant evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease or it might be national liberation movements that defy a foreign, imperialist power.
We are called to ‘stand firm’. We have a role to play in securing those gains of liberation as individually, and collectively, by showing the commitment required to maintain freedom as well as to resist sliding back into slavery.
As Paul says in Romans 6: 1-2 “What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?”
We know how hard this is to achieve, whether as an individual desperate not to reoffend, or a society which is witnessing unparalleled levels of poverty and social despair and seems to be sliding back into the nineteenth century.
But Christ is on our side throughout. And that is the best news around.