Accept...Freedom A Lenten Devotion for March 13, 2017

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, oppression and injustice in all its forms?

The Baptismal vow we are exploring this week deals with Accepting the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, oppression and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves. Whereas last week, we explored wickedness within us, this week we are exploring wickedness that exists outside of us. Such is the human condition that even when you have exorcised sin within yourself you still have to walk around in a sinful world. It’s not easy.

Luke 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’

Nicodemus and Zacchaeus

Our scriptural basis for accepting freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, oppression and injustice comes from these two powerful men whose weakness was exposed by Jesus. Nicodemus (from Sunday's scripture which can be found here) and Zacchaeus, a Jew elevated by the Roman government to tax and exploit his own people, were both men of power and means. Yet that power is the very thing that separated them from God. In fact their separation from God was intimately tied to their separation from their neighbors. turns out its very difficult to love God while standing on the throat of your fellow man. Zacchaeus did this through Roman taxation system. Nicodemus (by association as a Pharisee) did through brutal application of Hebrew law.

What's that got to do with me?

Do you participate in processes or systems that exploit people? Are you aware of the ways humans mistreat other humans? The church calls this evil. It's also known as oppression. I am complicit in oppression when I allow racism to go unchecked in my community. I am complicit in oppression when I allow my fellow worker to be mistreated by an employer. I am complicit in oppression when I allow my LGBT neighbors to be targeted for harassment or discrimination.

Our faith is not just a private entity. Jesus was a public teacher. And he was persecuted and executed publicly. The Christian faith has a strong, historical social element. We are given, by the Creator of the universe, freedom and power to resist evil, oppression and injustice in all its forms. It seems that God wants us to use that freedom for the betterment of humanity. This week, let us practice living out these baptismal promises.

Reflection Questions

  1. In what ways does your following Christ affect the world around you?
  2. What evil, oppression or injustice are you working to eradicate?
  3. In what ways are Jesus’ ways radical today?

Credits:

Created with images by dimitrisvetsikas1969 - "kite colorful flying" • Wendell Smith - "lonely sycamore" • stafichukanatoly - "church orthodoxy baptism"

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