“Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer
subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
– Galatians 3:23-27

Dear friends in Christ,
As sons and daughters we have been called through baptism to live freely in the Spirit, not by the letter of the law but by grace. The Christian faith has always struggled with this freedom. The New Testament itself grapples with it. Paul embraces this freedom with a frightening certainty. James seems to be hedging his bets. Has God given us in this freedom a load that is too much for us to bear? Is the water too deep? That depends.
As the freedom of the gospel coaxes the Christian into deeper water the old sinner in us, standing comfortably in the shallows and equipped with the life preserver of the law, immediately mounts a defense; ‘You just can’t do what you want! God wants obedience after all! You have to do something to show God you have a serious faith!’
If freedom only serves to evoke this self conscious awareness of my lack of freedom, I will be tempted to turn to the Law for remediation, balance and security. And when I do I may discover a kind of relief being moored to the Law. I will find a kind of comfortable certainty there that freedom simply does not give. When the Christian lives this way, daring only to wade into the shallows of freedom, a little bit of freedom is all you get. The Church has stood in the shallows of freedom, wearing the life preserver of the Law, for much of its history.
If my freedom, however, is informed not by fear and self-consciousness but by the Cross, something else happens. I am taken out of myself and taken up into the spontaneous life of faith, the life in Christ. When the Cross is the starting and ending point of faith, Christ becomes the end of the law. In Him I have permission to remove the life preserver of the
law and plunge headlong into the deep waters of faith, hope and love, into the depths of the grace that has set me free.

Grace to you,

Pastor Mark


Pastor Mark Anderson Lutheran Church of the Master Corona del Mar, California

Jesus loved us first. Jesus is love as it was meant to be. Love that takes the initiative, makes the first move. Love such as this opens blind eyes, deaf ears, gets the lame skipping for joy and raises the dead! But nowhere is this love more evident than in God’s decision to love sinners. The love of Jesus that frees sinners saw a woman, weeping with joy, wash His feet with her hair; saw a corrupt, despised tax collector breathe the free air of a new life, took hold of a condemned, dying thief with a word and promised him paradise, had St. Paul storming across the ancient world proclaiming the freedom of faith.

That same love of Jesus has baptized you into His righteousness and keeps you in His grip all throughout life, constantly picking up the debris of your past and opening the future according to His purposes. In His love, you are free to live your life, really free, since the good you do will not save you and the evil you do will not condemn you, as Marin Luther noted. We often can’t distinguish between them anyway. It is not so much that we are doing for God as it is that He is making use of us – in the midst of whatever choices we make. Christians can be confident of this. St. Paul expressed it when he wrote “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.”

Therefore you and I may go forward into the day in baptism’s promise, held in God’s love and mercy, taking up it’s opportunities and responsibilities without self consciousness, trusting only in Christ.

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”