Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Faith’s Freedom--a brief reflection

"Domineering over your faith is not my purpose," wrote St. Paul to the Corinthians after establishing the church there (2Corinthians 1.24). Yet developments frustrated his plans to travel again for a visit. St. Paul desired to intervene in person in the Corinthians’ concerns, but his second letter and the presence of his coworker, Titus, among them more than satisfied St. Paul.

How helpless St. Paul felt at not being able to address the concerns in person! How human we know that to be from our own experiences. One thing that frustrates us in those moments is being unable to do anything. An oft’ spoken, modern phrase which captures our frustration is “unable to be in control.”

Unable to control and to change the circumstances preventing his visit, St. Paul nevertheless enjoyed freedom--an enviable freedom as I ponder it. Domineering over others' faith--even long-distance control by means of a letter--was not St. Paul’s purpose.

How quickly we humans desire to lord it over others: whether that “it” is control, influence, knowledge, expertise and the like. Faith’s freedom is not only freedom from the "principalities and powers" of the world, the "elemental spirits", to use St. Paul’s phrasing. In addition, faith’s freedom liberates us from controlling, lording over others, domineering.

Faith’s freedom allowed St. Paul to state what his purpose was: I prefer to work with you for your joy. Each of us has to cultivate one’s own faith. Ministers of the church as well as lay people, who exercise particular ministries in the church, and all of us help one another grow more adept at joyfully living faith even in strained and unhappy circumstances.

In what way am I blocking God from creating me to become freer?

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