Freedom of Speech?

Freedom of Speech

Many people seem to believe that we have the “right” to say whatever we want to say to each other these days.

Social media is atrocious! Conversations turn into ugly arguments; and, before you know it, profanity is flying through the ethers of the universe. Folks who don’t even know each other call each other names and type words on their computer screens that they would never say to each other in public. And, somehow, we need to make sense of that. How do we make sense of our freedom of speech in a world where words can be used to praise and honor God, and where words can be just as easily used to curse people that God has made?

Many years ago, Saint Paul was asked about meat that had been sacrificed to false gods. “What do you do,” the Corinthians asked, “when you’re not sure about where the meat behind the grocery counter came from?” “What do you do,” the Corinthians asked Saint Paul, “when you’re not sure about where the meat behind the grocery counter came from because the temples in Corinth are selling animals that were sacrificed to the false gods in the meat market.”

And I find Saint Paul’s answer absolutely fascinating!

Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that it’s OK to eat the meat because, after all, an idol is just a piece of wood that really doesn’t matter at all. Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that it’s OK to eat the meat because there’s only one God and idols are just humanly-created trinkets. “And yet,” Saint Paul continues, “as you prepare to take a bite of your steak, you need to stop and look around.” Other people are watching you! People can be led astray in their walk with Christ because of the way you behave. It’s all about community! It’s all about relationships! It’s all about doing what’s helpful and turning away from the things that can harm other people.

People who call each other names and spew profanity from their computer need to stop for a moment and think about the people who will read their words. People who spread gossip need to remember that words are powerful and can destroy people’s lives. When we swear and speak harshly to each other in front of little children, we are telling them that it’s OK for them to do the very same thing. Every time we find ourselves in an ugly argument, we need to ask ourselves: “Is what I’m debating more important to me than my relationships with other people?”

Words have the power to change people’s lives – even in a country that is committed to free speech, and that’s what this week’s message, “Freedom of Speech?”, is all about.

People can be led astray in their walk with Christ as they watch the way that we speak to each other, and as they watch the way that we interact with others on social media. Just as Saint Paul told the Corinthians that they need to stop for a moment and look around before they take a bite of their juicy steak, he would also tells us that we need to be very careful when we exercise our freedom of speech in modern times.

The words that we speak have a power of their own and can never be taken back. And that’s why we need to choose the words that we speak, or type, very carefully.

 

 

Read Through the Bible – Week 22

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“Read Through the Bible” is designed to help you to journey through God’s Word over the course of a year. Unlike other Bible reading programs, “Read Through the Bible” is not built upon the concept of beginning to read the Bible in the book of Genesis and reading straight through to the end of Revelation. It’s easy to get bogged-down in Biblical books like Leviticus and become discouraged enough to stop reading. “Read Through the Bible” has been created to help you to experience reading through the Bible in a different way.

This week, we’re going to begin Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians – a rather complex and theologically rich book that was written to eradicate doctrinal errors.

You’ll see Saint Paul proclaiming that his apostleship is genuine. Saint Paul, then, goes on to talk about the importance of the Cross of Christ – arguing against the Jews. One of the main points that Saint Paul will make is that a “right” relationship with God is based on believing in Jesus – and is not built upon the foundation of “making points” with God by behaving in the “right way.” In this brief letter, St. Paul forever settles the questions that we might have about the relationship between faith in Jesus and building a relationship with God upon the Law of Moses.

And so, as you begin Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians, you might want to ask yourself: How do I know that I’m “right” with God? You might, also, want to ask yourself: What is the difference between being a Christian and being a Buddhist or a Hindu? Am I building my relationship with God upon a pile of “good deeds” and accomplishments in order to somehow impress God, or am I trusting in Jesus who told me that He is the way, the truth, and the life? (John 14:6)

Here are next week’s readings:

Sunday: Galatians 1-3 – Monday: Exodus 33-36 – Tuesday: 1 Kings 1-4 – Wednesday: Psalms 63-65 – Thursday: Proverbs 1 – Friday: Jeremiah 47-52 – Saturday: Luke 7-8

Blessings!