Posted on Oct 24, 2018 by Pastor Dave Whetter
We have much to celebrate this Sunday, October 28. First, 10 of our teens will affirm their baptism and accept responsibility for the vows that their parents made. Secondly, we will also celebrate the Reformation of the 16th Century Church. Legend says that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. The theses were 95 statements against certain actions of the Roman church, because, after years of study, Luther came to the understanding that many of the practices of the church were not biblical. The practice of selling indulgences so one could buy forgiveness was one such practice that Luther rejected. Luther also rediscovered as he studied God’s word that forgiveness was freely offered to everyone.
Luther’s 95 Theses would cause quite a stir, and eventually it caused a split in the church, but what he rediscovered and proclaimed truly was the freedom that Christ came to offer the world. The world had gotten bogged down in the legalism of life and the laws of scripture. Humanity had forgotten that God was the God of all creation and one who loved his creation. Humanity had forgotten that it was not God’s intention to destroy us, but it was her intention to reconcile herself to us.
This Sunday, our Gospel text is John 8:31-36. In this story, Jesus says, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (8:31-32). When the Jews heard Jesus say this, they denied that they had been slaves and that they were currently enslaved. The truth is, though, the descendants of Abraham had been slaves in Egypt, they had been overthrown and enslaved by the Babylonians, and Rome currently controlled all they had and did. They were slaves, not only to sinful living,but literally, as well.
And as we look at our own lives today, we discover that even though we would never call ourselves slaves, we are slaves today. We not only are slaves to sin, but we are slaves to our work, to our activities, to our financial resources, and to so much more.
In a recent pew study, many people who claimed to be active in a faith community stated that they often did not have time to attend worship regularly. We see that trend increasing here at Salem, also. Personally, I find that to be very sad. Why can’t we see that the very things that we think we need are enslaving us and taking over our lives? When we become so busy that we cannot find time to worship our LORD, to pray, and to spend time with our families, then it is definitely time to find ways to free ourselves from the slavery we are in.
Real freedom is in Christ, not in the ways and activities of this world. My prayer this week as we prepare to celebrate this weekend is that each of us might find ways to make Christ the most important part of our lives. I pray we can find ways to live into his word so that we, too, can find true freedom, the freedom in our lives that only Christ can offer. Now, that would be something to celebrate!
Shalom, Pastor Dave