The Spirit of the Lord is on me, Because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.
One of my all-time favorite hymns is “Amazing Grace”. It has been a part of my hymnody for as long as I can remember. The words seem to say what I feel. It is like a pray as well as a declaration of how much God loves us.
Now, sometimes when we sing it with the piano in church, we add the chorus of “My Chains are Gone.” As we sing that chorus, I get caught up in gratitude for what God has done for me in Jesus Christ, to set me free from my sin, and I can enjoy the freedom that Jesus came to proclaim and provide for all people. Then comes the question to my mind and heart, am I truly following Jesus and bringing them to the one who is a liberator of sin.
I have never seen myself as an oppressor, but the truth is that we all have the capacity to be liberators or oppressors, and how we perceive ourselves may not always be how others see us.
When I taught health education in my first profession at the university level, I know that there were students in every class I taught who thought of me as an oppressor when they looked at their readings and projects for the semester’s work. When I served as a full-time pastor I am sure there were people in the congregation who saw me as an oppressor at times when it seemed that the law outweighed the gospel in my sermons, or I stressed the importance of something we needed to be doing rather than letting the gift of God’s loving grace call people into offering to serve.
As I read this verse in Luke, I wondered in what ways am I being an oppressor today rather than a liberator. Perhaps we all should ask ourselves if we have an oppressor attitude rather than a liberator attitude. Do we live by some kind of checklist of do’s and don’ts, or do we somehow that others should abide by our checklist of do’s and don’t’s.
God’s grace revealed through Jesus has not freed us to be moral police. We never see Jesus cast the first stone or shy away from sinners. He ate with them, healed them and called them to follow him. He never required someone to change before he loved them. He simply came to them and offered them his friendship, his love, and his compassion. He listened to people, fed them, touched them and made them whole. He was and is a true liberator leading them and us into the freedom of his love.
Oh, may we share with others the freedom of God’s love like Jesus does without casting stones, to draw all people into God’s Amazing Grace.
- Can you think of a time when you shared the amazing grace of God with someone, and as you did you felt the gift of God’s grace filling you?
- In what ways do we, without even thinking, oppress others with rules that are binding and not sharing God’s grace?
- What chains bind you and prevent you from opening your heart to receive the freedom of living in God’s grace?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.