We are fast approaching the season of Pentecost. On Sunday 9 June we celebrate the gift of God’s empowering love. The Holy Spirit transformed this small and beleaguered group of men and women into a powerful, outgoing, and transforming community. It wasn’t long before this community profoundly challenged the traditional understanding of God lived and preached in their local synagogues and as a consequence they were thrown out, so began a long period of persecution. If you ever find yourselves in Rome, I do recommend a visit to one of the many catacombs just outside the City, in them you get a glimpse of the early Christian communities life and just how difficult a lived faith could be. Christians became a convenient scapegoat for societies ills.
At Morning prayer today I was reading a passage from Deuteronomy 28:1-14 usefully headed “Warnings against Disobedience” I suppose we could summarise chapter 28 as Obey the Lord your God – or else! So began a relationship with the Law that Paul so fundamentally challenged. For Paul the Law meant servitude, whereas life in Christ meant freedom. Freedom of course, comes with a health warning – to grow through freedom means approaching life with a maturity of self-knowledge which some frankly do not possess. So do we apply a cost benefit analysis to the situation? Is freedom worth the risk? For Paul – Yes! His belief in the transforming power of God’s love trumps all concerns about appropriate outcomes. Over the years, I fear, others have not been so sure. The question for the Church today living in these sometimes difficult times is: Do we trust in the transforming power of God’s love, or do we require ever more measurable outcomes as proof that God is really working his purpose out? Can we be that secure?