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The history of humanity can be seen as a process of expanding individual freedom. People risk their lives to achieve democracy as a means of gaining freedom. “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1Cor 9:19)

When Apostle Paul says he is "free and belong to no one," it means that no person or value in this world can capture or shake his heart. If we understand freedom as having the authority to make decisions about oneself without external influences, then no ideology, power, or money can take away that person's freedom.

However, Paul also says he has “made himself a slave to everyone.” A free person becomes a servant. This is not due to external coercion but through personal choice. True freedom allows one to choose their own path in life, including the freedom to become a servant. The crucial point is that he did not become a servant to a particular person but to everyone, regardless of whether they are a child or an adult and a man or a woman, without discrimination. He voluntarily becomes a servant to all. Why? “To win as many as possible.” His focus is on living as a truly free person through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He offers himself for the sake of others, not for his own benefit. Sometimes, we may find this idea quite unfamiliar. Where does the freedom to choose to become a servant come from? It comes from “letting go.” It involves releasing the things that hold us and do not let us go, and the things we cannot let go of. When we let these go and follow the Lord's will, we will be truly free.

Paul approaches people to help them experience the freedom the Gospel brings and enjoy the joy of salvation. (1Cor 9:19-23) 

He doesn’t just approach them; he approaches them empathetically. To those who value the law, he becomes like one who values the law; to those who do not know the law, he be-comes like one who does not know the law; to those who are weak in faith, he becomes like one who is weak in faith. Paul's purpose was not merely to become like them or to fit in with them. He had an ulti-mate goal of leading them to the path of freedom in Christ. As we reflect on freedom this July, let us surrender our control to our Lord for true freedom, and move closer to our neighbors so that they may also enjoy this freedom.

See you at church!

Pastor Jay

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Cor 4: 20

I know, I know, I talk a lot. About a lot of things. But I have learned in life that some things do not submit to pretty words, no matter how many they may be. I was blessed to come to faith before I could talk my way over or through things. And I was nurtured in the faith by people who knew, or at least believed in, the power of God. It seems, reading 1 Corinthians, that there have always been two kinds of religious people, those who talk about God and those who know, or at least believe in, the power of God. I am blessed to be one of the latter.

I am hoping that our Kingdom Assignment will result in a few more of us. On the one hand, if a few dozen of us go out into the world and donate to worthy causes, we will make a difference, perhaps attract some attention, but not increase in faith or welcome anyone into faith. On the other hand, if we first pray, and some of us receive direction from God through prayer, if we join with others to pray and to carry out our Assignment, if we do God’s will according to God’s power in someone’s life, we will surely increase in faith and surely someone else will come to faith. Reading through the New Testament, particularly the book of Acts, we see how often the early Church attracted attention because God’s power was evident in our ministry. I fear that the safe, institutional, professional Church of our day has become more a Church of talk than of power. So, I’m going to shut up. (How long do you think that will last?)

As we prepare to tell the story of what we’ve done for our Assignment, let’s not talk about what we’ve done, where the money went, what it paid for, and let’s talk about what God did: answers to prayer, direction to the right person at the right time, calls beyond our comfort zone, and power, the power that changes lives and brings people to faith. Let’s make our Kingdom Assignment not a matter of talk, but of power.

See you in church!

Pastor Jim