by Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
I have fond memories of the summer of 1999 as my soon-to-be bride Chauntel and I made preparations for our wedding. It was my first and only wedding and so I was learning on the fly. As the preparations continued, I noticed that much of the wedding seemed to be geared slightly more toward the bride. As this trend continued, I put my foot down when it came to our wedding unity candle. I insisted that it read “Adam & Chauntel” rather than “Chauntel & Adam”. After this embarrassing conflict, a few wise voices came to my rescue. They opened my eyes to the reality that the wedding is mostly for and about the bride. After some reflection, I gladly and quickly agreed. The remaining wedding preparations were rightfully and joyfully focused on Chauntel the rest of the summer.
The apostle Paul, who ironically never married, had a similar epiphany that he details in I Corinthians Chapter 9. It seems some members in the church did not think Paul should receive any gifts from the church, but thought he should rather pay his own way. Paul cleverly and eloquently outlined with logic and examples how the worker is worthy of his wages. Despite this obvious and sound argument, Paul went on to declare that he would indeed pay his own way. He rightly understood his rights in collecting gifts from the church for his services, but he believed that if he collected or insisted on payment, disagreement on this point might create an obstacle for sharing the gospel. In fact, Paul declared he would rather die than not be able to boast that he had laid down his rights to preach the gospel free of charge!
We live in a culture in which personal rights are often held in highest regard. Connected to this thinking is the idea that ultimate and complete freedom of choice is the greatest of these rights. The paradox is that the pursuit of ultimate freedom often results in greater slavery. Consider a fish flourishing in the boundary of its liquid habitat. If it decides that it has the right and freedom to pursue a new life on the dock, its flight through the boundary of the water through the air onto the dock rewards it with an uncomfortable and likely death. Jesus himself was the greatest example of laying down one’s rights. By choosing to stay within the boundary of humankind and His destiny on the cross, He purchased eternal life for each one of us.
As Christian believers, we are no longer slaves to sin but are free indeed. This freedom came at a cost for Jesus, but is free to us. To best exercise this freedom and enjoy all of its benefits, one must understand the boundaries which allow it to flourish. When I entered into marriage with my wife 17 years ago, we agreed to certain boundaries so that our marriage would succeed and grow. I pray for the same commitment and understanding in all areas of my own children’s lives. Our children are learning about boundaries as we model them in many significant areas of our lives. And just as I needed wise counsel to understand the true focus of a wedding, may our children understand the true purpose of boundaries in their lives and the true freedom they produce.
– Adam Kronberger / Superintendent