A Meditation for 3 July 2016, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). The meditation is based on 2 Kings 5: 1 – 14; Galatians 6: 1 – 6 (7 -16); and Luke 10: 1 – 11, 16 – 20.
It has been said that one finds the cost of freedom buried in the ground (courtesy of Crosby, Stills, and Nash).
And for part of my life, I was reminded that the freedom in which we all lived was maintained by the B-52 bombers that were parked on the ready ramp with their bomb bay doors open. As long as those bombers were there, we were at peace; if those bombers took off, it was the beginning of the final war on this planet. The purpose of those bombers was to attack targets in the Soviet Union and I suspect that those flight crews knew that once they took off they were not coming back.
But how do we find freedom? What steps must we take that will insure that we can and continue to live in freedom.
I was privy to a conversation given to Air Force families living in western Missouri during the height of the Cold War that basically stated that western Missouri (where Titan II missile sites, prime targets for Soviet missiles, were located) would be a dead and devastated wasteland within a week if there was an exchange of nuclear missiles between the US and the Soviet Union.
The doctrine that allowed freedom to be maintained during the Cold War was called the theory of mutually assured destruction or, in one of the most appropriate acronyms ever created, MAD. But at what cost was such freedom paid for?
What happens when the majority of money is spent on weapons of war and the maintenance of power? What happens to meeting the needs of individuals, both at home and abroad? Perhaps the solution to finding freedom comes when one looks at the problem differently.
Naaman was one of the most powerful men in Biblical times and he expected that his military power would be sufficient to find a cure for his leprosy. But the threat of military power and the promise of wealth were not sufficient to heal Naaman.
The message in the healing of Naaman is found in the words of his servants who pointed out that he would have willingly done something hard and heroic when all he had to do was simply bathing in the river Jordan.
Like everything else, large amounts of wealth and large amounts of power (political or military) tend to make it hard to find that it is rather easy to find freedom. What is needed is an open mind and a willingness to see other options.
And the only way that you will ever see options is if you have an open mind.
Consider what Jesus told those he sent out on that first mission. Go ahead and make the announcement about why you have come to town but don’t make a big deal about it. Give the people an option.
I am sure that there were those among the seventy who would have wanted to seek some sort of response to the refusal of some to ignore their mission.
But Jesus told them to brush the dust of the town off and continue on their mission, leaving it to history to decide the fate of those with closed minds. He did not tell them to loudly proclaim how they were all sinners and doomed to a life in Sheol, just move on. He did not tell them to call on the heavenly powers to destroy the town (as some of the disciples often wanted to do), just move on. The mission will succeed because there will be people who will listen.
Those who chose not to listen lost, for the moment, the chance at freedom that was being offered. But that is and will always be the case; when your mind is closed, your options for freedom are limited.
I think that is also what Paul wrote to the Galatians. There were those who wanted to force people to follow them because it seems far easier than actually doing the work that we have been asked to do. I find it interesting that Paul points out (at least in The Message translation) that those who would force belief don’t do as they demand others do. And while that perhaps was directed at others, there are those who proclaim Christianity loudly today who do not follow Christ today.
If we are to find freedom today, we have to understand that it will not come through military action first. There may be a need for military action but it will always have to be the last option, not the first.
If we are find freedom today, it will not be through what others tell us to do or think, for they are only interested in maintaining the status quo and their own status. They have their own agendas which don’t mean freedom for others.
To find freedom, we must seek it and we must work for it. Our freedom will come when we open our minds, first to the power of the Holy Spirit, and then to the empowerment that follows. And we will keep our freedom when we help others to find theirs.