The Free Methodist Church celebrates Freedom! After all, we are not just Methodists, we are Free Methodists. We are not libertarian (I refer not to the political party but to the dictionary meaning here), not people of license, not given to “whatever,” determined by whomever,” “however” we might. Rather, we are Free in relation to enslavements common to humans beings–specifically characteristic in the U.S. in the mid-19th century, yet universally characteristic of people everywhere all the time. I would synthesize and articulate several core freedoms Free Methodists champion as follows:
- The Freedom of access to worship, against pew-rental or sale (19th century) and for generous welcoming of all and especially the poor (then, now, and always).
- The Freedom and dignity of the human person, against the enslaving of persons in any form and for embracing persons of all colors, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds (then, now, and always).
- The Freedom and spiritual nature of worship, against cold and formal pattern and ritual, and for participatory, Spirit-filled encounter and response to God in worship (then, now, and always).
- The Freedom and empowering of the whole church in ministry and leadership, against clergy and male dominated leadership, and for full lay participation in leadership, including affirming and empowering women in their gifting and callings.
- The Freedom of God’s people from the world, against conformity to ungodly systems and powers and competing allegiances (secret societies in 19th century, and many formal and informal forms of allegiance now), and for personal and corporate sanctifying of our people to be a counter-culture– in character and mission holy and loving in Christ-like ways–in the world.
In my view these are the most critical ways we have understood the “Free” in Free Methodist. Our living has often fallen short of our understandings, or has worked itself out in inconsistent ways, or has become ironically encumbered by other kinds of entanglement. Even so, at our best, this is the sort of folk we know God has called, grace and empowered us to be. This is the kind of people best suited to love God and people well, and to make disciples of Jesus who will love people with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus, and then to others. Indeed, this is the kind of people (whether FM or some other tribe of Jesus-followers) who are best positioned to offer profound hope and help to our present world.
Obviously, there are multiple ways we can and must work this out. But here is one of the most obvious and urgent. We must exercise and express our understanding of the core freedoms Jesus brings to people in our world by energetically and enthusiastically participating in efforts to end the shocking human trafficking all around us. We can and we must!
This Sunday has been designated as “Freedom Sunday” by a number of denominations, including Free Methodist. We have an opportunity to embrace and enact our core freedoms for the sake of today’s enslaved and trafficked. This is an opportunity we must seize. The day and programmed efforts are not the main thing. Living in community with others partnering in various ways to set captives free”this is the main thing. Here is a link that will help: