Freedom To Do What I Want or What I Ought to Do?

Ed, my neighbor next door, is still in Mexico on this last day of December 2012. This year, the New Year will arrive without the usual clang of pots and pans and shouts and whistles on Ed and Ruby’s front steps at midnight. There, Ed and his hardest-partying members traditionally welcome the New Year in shirt sleeves, without coats. The one able to shout the loudest and stay out the longest on the cold steps will be guaranteed of the best luck in the coming year. It has always been a contest between Ed and his uncle Joe. Everyone else gets out and in pretty fast. Ed and Joe are always ready to prove they are Saskatchewan-hardy to the point of being foolhardy and neither of them will remember much about being out in the cold the next day anyway. Ed claims that the best way to celebrate New Year’s Day is with a huge hangover unless you are a peculiar, parched parson like me, who disgustingly has never ever even been too drunk to walk a straight line. It will be a quiet change this year without the annual New Year’s Eve party next door.

It seems to me that everything has already changed here on our street. Ed has been away in Mexico for a couple of weeks. I no longer need to make sure my car is plugged in so it will start so I can get to work. There has been something quite refreshing about not holding a job any longer. So far, not working hasn’t become stale and boring and it has been a whole nine days.

2013 will be my year of freedom during retirement, with no work schedules to arrange my life. It’s said that too much freedom isn’t good for a person. Should I be doing what I feel like in my freedom, or doing what I ought to do in my freedom? My sense is that in the coming year I ought to pay my bills, tell the truth, and be good to others especially my family and friends and my enemies. I suspect a majority of people will freely choose the same goals for 2013.

In the Bible, Paul speaks of freedom this way: “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything. Food for the stomach and the stomach for food – but God will destroy them both. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Follow the example of Christ.”

In the Bible, Peter also speaks of freedom this way: “Christ bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. He is the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil. In your hearts set aside Christ as Lord. Be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing.”

Each day we are free to get in step with God’s Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Our freedom every year is faith in Christ expressing itself through love.

 

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Raymond Maher
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