The Gospel-Centered Stewardship of Liberty
The only problem with the American church is that it is filled with self-absorbed, self-focused, self-ish prigs.
What does this say about the church?
It simply says that the church is in dire need of the gospel. More specifically, believers are in desperate need of the gospel. Even more specifically, I am absolutely lost without the gospel.
I am the Patron Saint of Selfishness. I need this more than anyone else I know. Trust me.
But it also shows that our default in western culture is to be entirely consumed with self-centered concerns. Like good consumers – we consume. Unlike Christ, we often fail to serve. We need the gospel.
Take the biblical teaching of Christian liberty and dilute it with western individualism and you have a recipe for danger. We need to heed the words of Romans 15, wherein the Apostle Paul provides three parameters for the believer’s stewardship of liberty:
A. Obligation: We are obligated to serve our weaker brothers.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15:1-2)
B. Example: Christ did not please himself but sacrificially served others.
“For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:3)
C. Purpose: The ultimate goal of service is the glory of God.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)
The solution for our selfishness can only be found in the sacrifice of the Son of God. As he has welcomed us – at great expense to himself – we are to welcome others.
We are not to use our liberty as an excuse for boasting, but as an opportunity for self-denial. Thus, our strength is found in the abdication of our rights. In so doing we will carry others. Perhaps we will even be able to say, like the motto of Father Flanagan, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”