FREEDOM OF SPIRIT

God has laid upon man the duty of being free, of safe-guarding freedom of spirit, no matter how difficult that may be, or how much sacrifice and suffering it may require.

PURE FM 107.8 -Thought for the Day – Sunday 10 August 2008

THESE ARE THE WORDS of the Russian philosopher and theologian Nicholas Berdyaev, and they’ve been a kind of lodestar, or guide, for me, across many years in Christian ministry.

The 2nd century church father St Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is a person fully alive”.

And philosopher John Macmurray wrote in the 1940s that “any morality which is against freedom is a bad morality”.

You know, I thank God that there are signs in this broken world of ours that some of us humans are becoming a little more humane. Maybe a little closer to the image of God. In many parts of the world human beings have come to recognize that God intends us to be free; to breathe his good air without fear or the need constantly to be looking over our shoulders. In many parts of the world human beings across the religious traditions have heard a call to work for the things of justice and shared peace; to work for the provision of food for the hungry, water for the thirsty and welcome for the outcast.

The Bishop of Colombo, addressing fellow bishops at the recent Lambeth Conference, said:

The Church is called to be: an inclusive communion, where there is space equally for everyone and anyone, regardless of colour, gender, ability, sexual orientation. Unity in diversity is a cherished Anglican tradition – a spirituality if you like, which we must reinforce in all humility for the sake of Christ’s Gospel.

And I say “Amen” to that. For I believe, with the Dutch scholar Erasmus, that God preserves the ship, but the mariner conducts it into harbour. We’re all in this together. God, together with every man, woman and child upon earth. Let’s take care to safeguard freedom of spirit. God is big enough to absorb our little mistakes and creative enough to have made us to be free. Grace and peace for you, as always.