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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Grounded and Free

Which freedoms do you enjoy most as a Christian? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1365).

Unquestionably a great benefit that Christianity has bestowed on civilization is the distinction between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is based on principles all deriving from love as Jesus revealed it. With a bedrock of spiritual principles that are non-negotiable, EVERYTHING ELSE IS. In fact, Christianity comprehends the basic irony of life that established laws created to affirm compassionate principles under one set of conditions can in a different set of conditions thoroughly undercut them. A simple example—I say to my young child “Never leave the yard without asking!” The next day when we are together at home alone, I fall from a ladder and am knocked unconscious. Certainly the Christian thing for my child to do is not obey the rule to stay in the yard, but rather go to our neighbor’s house to seek help. It is to be hoped that I have taught my child to be proactively compassionate, not just fearfully obedient.

This simple idea has tremendous implications that extend way beyond “religious” matters. For example, in America a strong behavioral determinate is the practicality of an action to arrive at beneficial results (pragmatism). The traditional ways of doing things may cease being effective (perhaps due to the law of diminishing returns). Thus, with little chagrin we dump established behaviors for more effective ones.

Underlying a spiritual—not just a strictly pro forma—viewpoint is a focus on facts. We care less about what is said to work, and more on what works. This focus on actual results underlies much that has improved our world.

Now one might ask, is this really all due to Christianity? Of course not! Even animals as obtuse as humans can learn from experience. The final importance of Christianity is not the introduction of flexibility of approach but the loadstone of faith in love. Thus resolutely grounded, we can move forward into the future with flexibility and new ways of thinking. While ideologies are expendable, conviction never is. Only in this stance are we free to flourish and move forward.

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