I want to refocus. I want to get this #30daysofPaul series back on track. I’ve fallen behind, shirked my duties, lost focus. So let’s take a deep breath, center ourselves and realign.
When I started this, I said I wanted to read Paul with a focus on liberation theology. I’ve hit that bits and pieces throughout, but not in any consistent or meaningful meaner.
But this passage is the perfect one to jump back in on.
Why do we liberate?
What is the purpose of working towards liberation for all of humanity?
What is the utility of viewing the Gospel from the perspective of those who labor?
Those who are shackled?
Those who are oppressed?
Those held in bondage?
We liberate because our faith has made us free from the hold of sin, as embodied by the law. Because we find ourselves free from these spiritual bonds, we must also work to make ourselves free of all bonds that hold us back from living in relationship with God. We must break all the chains that hold us back from truly living into our imago dei.
And not just our chains. We must work to break all chains, for all people, especially those who cannot do for themselves.
The only way to do this work of liberation is to live into the existence of those who need liberation the most. We can only identify their bonds, and participate in their liberation, by becoming as they are, by seeing the world through their eyes. We must live to serve the other.
Only then can we open the shackles, and break their chains.
Here is 2 Corinthians, in the second part of his letter defending his ministry, Paul describes the life of faith, achieved through reconciliation with God. In 5:17, he says:
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
Here, we can see the final step of liberation. The work towards freedom is the work of shedding our old selves, and becoming new, becoming whole and healthy and liberated and holy.
Why do we liberate?
Because we are compelled by our relationship with God to make all things new.
Paul warns that the fruits of our work for liberation may not always be apparent to the world. “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see – we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
The burdens we carry will be enough to crush us; nothing will be given easily. But it is the only way. Only by working to liberate, to make all things new, are we doing the will of God. This is what bringing the Kingdom of God looks like.
The Kingdom is a place where all are freed from the burdens they carry.
But the Kingdom doesn’t just come about on it’s own. Only by our hard work:
dying to ourselves to become new again.
Only then will we see the Kingdom on Earth.
Next: 2 Corinthians 10-13