Over the past weekend I was blessed to spend a bit of time in the city dubbed the “Gateway to the West” – St. Louis that is. Walking around the town I recognized the history the place holds and even was able to explore some less known locations that hold historic pieces and information throughout the city. One long walk exploring streets downtown and beyond as I moved away from the Mississippi revealed some highlights that were meant to honor the lives of those from the surrounding area who served in the military and those who made a difference in the history of the city of St. Louis and surrounding area itself.
While wondering around, I also got a mix of feeling as if I was in Kansas City at times and Louisville at other times. The people I met and local history mixed with different types of restaurants and businesses really made the city feel like there was a mix of cultures residing there. I even had the opportunity to visit with a local on her way to work. She had lived in the city all her life and said she loved the atmosphere and the mix of peoples and opportunities the city had. She felt it was a very beautiful place.
It was enjoyable to explore the city and meet with other locals with whom I had good conversations. It was a good reminder that everywhere we go there is always a blend of history and culture. And it is wise to respect that history.
As I picked up my Bible each morning in the city, I was reminded of the history the preceded me. Beginning with God creating and forming the earth, light, darkness, animals, plants, humans…and the list goes on. And just as each person has their place in history and a calling in their role of that history, we each have a role in God’s Kingdom and a place in His plan no matter what our historic or cultural background.
Much of the historical artifacts and honors I saw were meant to demonstrate how valuable our freedom is to us as people. World and regional war memorabilia and history, civil war and slavery history and expansion to the west to build a life of freedom and a place for family to grow were all parts of the St. Louis historical displays that demonstrated that value.
As a Christ follower, I am able to look to the history outlined in God’s Word to show me how valuable my freedom from sin is. While people can take away my earthly freedom (which is temporary by the way), I find it more concerning that my own choices can affect my freedom eternally.
“1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… 7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5
And just as many come to St. Louis and become part of unique new culture, I come together with other Christians to be part of a culture that Jesus has created. As many in the city walk among many cultures without judgement, Christ walked among many as well to minister to them. No matter my cultural background, I am reminded to share the story of sin, judgement, salvation and a new life of redemption with Christ. That is a message that defines my discipleship and should be on display just as much as the story of freedom is on display in St. Louis.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith,and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” Ephesians 4:11-19