Father Abraham Had Two SonsFr. Barnabas Powell
I never cease to be amazed at the effects of a slavery mindset on society. The reason why slavery is so horrible is the caustic sickness it always sets up in a soul and how that illness is passed from one generation to the other, even after slavery has “ended!” Look at all the groups of people who have suffered slavery. The work each generation has to do to overcome this soul destroying evil never seems to end!
A classic example is the struggle for freedom of the Greeks from the Ottoman Empire. 400 years of being second class citizens “taught” these Orthodox people to “game the system” just to survive. Of course, it would have been easier for them if they would have abandoned their Orthodox faith and become Muslims, but their faith was more valuable to them than their comfort! Still, the caustic effects of that horrible period of persecution still lingers in the culture of these precious Orthodox people. If physical and political slavery does this to a soul; imagine the damage done to us all in the slavery we all suffer from in our addictions, unruly passions, and our selfish ways! The physical and emotional effects of political slavery are mere icons of the soul-enslaving sickness Christ came to heal in each one of us!
Look at our lesson today in Galatians 4:22-27:
BRETHREN, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married.”
First, our God has been planning our redemption, our spiritual restitution and salvation since before He said “Let there be light.” God has meticulously worked with the freedom of human persons through the centuries wooing willing hearts to agree to work with Him in the restitution of creation. He has left no stone unturned and has loved you so much that His very plan includes your free will to keep saying “yes” to Him. Such detail. Such patience. Such humility! What god is as great as our God?
Second, our God humbly offers His love, never demands it. He knows we are persons and persons are to be honored and respected, not forced, coerced, or manipulated. So He lovingly and patiently and humbly waits for those persons who hunger for Him and His true life and when He finds them He enlists them in the work of redeeming the world! The free mother and the free City are populated by truly free persons. The bondwoman and her son are earthly and gripped by the delusion of merely what they can see and desire.
Finally, the reality of God’s work on our behalf (remember, God isn’t the One with the problem here. We’re the slaves. He’s the rescuer) calls us to not “hide” our light under a basket, but to live out the freedom purchased for us at such a high price, the price of the Son of God Who loved us and gave Himself for us. How can we justify being silent about such joy and love? It is in being willing to share the treasure of our faith that actually enables us to value our faith properly and keep us free to keep saying “yes” to God!
Today, are a child of freedom or slavery? Is your mind enslaved to fear and desire, or are you experiencing the freedom of love and faith? All of this depends on your willingness to wake up to God’s patient work for you and your salvation. To wake up means to activate your will to choose freedom over slavery, love over fear, and faith over doubt. In other words, be Orthodox on Purpose!