Many years ago, I was a part of a youth group that had a conflict between the leaders and the members. The dispute regarded some of the rules the leaders wanted to impose on the group. During a debate that lasted more than an hour one of the youth said, “If you treat us like children we’ll act like children, treat us respectfully and we will be respectful.” After that the debate quickly ended, the kids won and the new rules were not imposed. In reality though, both sides won. Sure the kids were free from having some unreasonable rules imposed on them, but now they had committed themselves to acting respectfully. And sometimes that’s more challenging than following a set of rules.
On our journey of faith, we can think of it in two ways: as a set of rules to be followed or an expectation of freedom. Historically, and perhaps even still, we tend to think of our faith as being a set of rules to be followed and the dire consequences should we fail. It seems to me however, that the problem of sin is solved by forgiveness. In the face of our all-too-human worries about sin, our own and that of others, scripture is emphatic about the Good News of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. So, if we think that sin is a barrier to God’s love; think again. God loves us and has forgiven us.
The Good News is that the problem of sin has been solved and we are called into a life of freedom. Just like those kids in my youth group, freedom is not about doing what ever we want. Freedom for us, on our faith journey, is taking on the responsibility of being bearers of the Good News, bearers of God’s love and justice. Actions, as you know, speak louder than words. Being bearers of the Good News is not just about preaching, but acting on God’s desire for love and justice to flourish, to take root and flower in every heart and land.