For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.—Galatians 5: 1
I’ve been remembering recently how timidly I tiptoed
into Unity when I first began attending services at Unity
in Chicago. It wasn’t easy to be timid in the face of the
energetic force of nature that was Rev. Mike Matoin, but I
managed to keep a safe distance for quite some time.
I’d first been exposed to Unity in New York City, through
an Eric Butterworth Easter service, which I found so
alarming that I stayed away for more than five years. I never
stopped thinking about his message, however, as my path
took me to Detroit and then Chicago.
I stayed centered in my 12-step work, and almost
everything about my life had greatly improved. Still, there
I was at the doorway to Unity in Chicago, trying to enter
without being noticed. And there was Mike, waiting to greet
me—and everyone—at the door.
I’ve been thinking about my spiritual meekness recently
as I considered Paul’s letter to the Galatians. What Paul was
offering to the Galatians, and what Unity is offering to me,
is freedom—spiritual freedom. The surprising truth is that
freedom can be profoundly scary.
Paul takes four chapters to get to the question of freedom.
Freedom requires faith, which was his first concern in
writing to people who were being persuaded by other
teachers that accepting the rules and traditions of Jewish
law was a necessary prerequisite for anyone interested in
the new movement based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
According to those teachers, that new movement was about
limitation, not freedom; its boundaries were clearly defined.
On the other hand, Paul, like Mike, is eager to welcome
everyone. He is quick to dismiss those who would simply
follow the old law. “Did you receive the Spirit by works of
the law, or by hearing with faith?” he asks in Chapter 3.
“Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works
miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by
hearing with faith?”
Despite his impatient language, Paul clearly understood
how difficult it was for the Galatians to accept the spiritual
freedom found in the teachings of Jesus Christ. He wrote
to assure them that his message was a message of inclusion,
I think it may be equally as difficult for people from more
traditional paths today to embrace the greater freedom
offered by New Thought. It takes time for them to realize
that it’s not about abandoning the past, but seeing old ideas
from a new, freer perspective.
Paul offered freedom from religious restrictions of the
past; New Thought today offers freedom from ideas and
concepts put in place in the centuries since his ministry.
To step away from teachings about eternal damnation
and the need for atonement with God is both freeing and
For those standing in our doorways today, as tentative
as I was in Chicago, I would suggest that a tone of quiet
reassurance rather than well-intentioned cheerleading will
help them move comfortably into our spiritual community.
Paul’s energy may have been excessive, but his message and
intention are just as valid today as ever. I know I still harbor
Galatians in my own consciousness, unsure of where this
spiritual path might lead. And I’m still, on a daily basis,
experiencing more of its infinite freedom.
Frightened of Freedom?
Metaphysical meanings behind the Bible and other scriptures
REV. ED TOWNLEY IS A UNITY MINISTER
AND THE FOUNDER OF SPIRIT EXPRESSING,
A CENTER COMMITTED TO EXPLORING THE
CREATIVE POWER OF SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES,
IN MANCHESTER, CONNECTICUT. VISIT
THE SPIRIT OF SCRIPTURE
WHAT UNITY IS OFFERING TO
ME IS FREEDOM—SPIRITUAL
FREEDOM. THE SURPRISING
TRUTH IS THAT FREEDOM CAN
BE PROFOUNDLY SCARY.