Uncomfortable Freedom: A Christian Perspective

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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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It seems a disturbing truth of history that we humans don’t cope well with freedom. We prize it even enough to die for, but we often ignore it when we have it, deny it to others, or abuse it ourselves.

Paul, perhaps best understood as the first Christian theologian, carried Jesus’ message of freedom through Asian and even into Eastern Europe. Where he went, churches formed. He would hear from fellow travellers reports from these churches and he kept in touch with them by letters, some of which survive today.

One of those churches was in Galatia, in modern Turkey. He started the church, but others came after him, with a different message. While he was all about “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus,” others were all about, ‘you men line up over there to get circumcised; you women, you can’t sit there with the men, you children, you can’t eat that food!’

Worship God and Love Neighbour

This shocked Paul. He knew Jesus as one who reduced the rules to two: Worship God and Love your neighbour as yourself.

Give Faith a Chance

It is as if we are afraid to rely on our faith, to give faith a chance, as it were. As soon as we taste a bit of faith, we try to contain it.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” – Paul

So it’s a bit of a surprise when we hear the story of a Roman soldier, a centurion, who has a conversation with Jesus about a slave of his, who is ill. The soldier is a good man, one who has even built a synagogue for the people under his control.

He tells Jesus he understands rules — he too is a man under authority — so he knows what he is asking when he asks Jesus to heal a slave of an outsider. And so the centurion asks, not that Jesus enter his house, but simply asks him to “speak the word, and let my servant be healed.”

Freedom to Serve

True freedom is leaning into the faith God gives us. It can be hard to live with that freedom, but Jesus gives us the certainty of healing.


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