Theme : Thanksgiving for freedom which can only be preserved by discipline and self-sacrifice
Psalm : 33
OT Reading : Deut 06 : 20 – 25
NT Reading Galatians 5 : 1, 13 – 18
Gospel Reading Luke 22 : 24 – 27
Galatians 5:13 "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
India will enter its 76th year of independence on August 15, 2023. We have plenty to be thankful for: we can travel freely, study whatever we want, compete for any government job, have a fair judicial trial, demand public utilities, use government subsidies, own property, vote for our leaders, demonstrate for our rights, and challenge the government. This is our country, and we have the right to live, travel, speak, associate, work, and worship as we please. This is freedom, which came at a high price, including the bloodshed of countless people. We live in the India many dreamed of seeing—self-ruled.
No freedom is absolute; if all were to be absolutely free, there would be anarchy. My liberty ends where your nose begins. Aristotle writes "Through discipline comes freedom". Individual and collective discipline accompanied by self-sacrifice is the only means of preserving this freedom.
In recent years, we have witnessed the rapid degradation of freedom in India. What we eat, say, and post is scrutinized. The State is watching and invading who we worship and how we worship. Elected governments are deposed, and the oppressed (women and lower castes) are crushed. The selfishness of a few businessmen has created an economic monopoly. The rulers lack both discipline and integrity. Our freedom is truly threatened, but as apolitical Christians living in the fast-paced city of Mumbai, we haven't completely grasped the implications of this.
The Manipuri Christians have fled their homes and are tortured and murdered in atrocious ways. Missionaries all over India are being unlawfully imprisoned. Church buildings are being vandalised. Worship services are being disrupted, and worshippers are being attacked. Is India truly and equally free?
1 Peter 2:16–17 says: "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor."
How self-sacrificing are we as spiritually and nationally liberated servants of God? What are we doing to help our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering in our country? Is our silence in the face of injustice honourable? Are the decisions we make God-honouring?
Our nation's freedom cost many lives and years; our spiritual freedom was purchased with Jesus' blood. We are expected to serve God and others as persons who are free in every aspect.
All of us, as children of free India and freed from the clutches of eternal damnation, should strive to preserve these freedoms through spiritual and nationalistic discipline and self-sacrifice. Because we are free, we can serve others in love, putting their needs ahead of our own and seeking to uphold the ideals of justice and mercy regardless of the consequences.
Luke writes “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (12:48)
May we constantly be grateful for our freedom and utilise it to serve others so that we, who have been entrusted with so much, do not stumble when our Lord calls us to account.