Monday, August 3, 2015

Free To Love

During bible class at camp my husband said this, "To be required to do something is drudgery. To be given the ability to do something is freedom.  And freedom brings great joy."  I was thought it was wise and wrote it down.  I asked him later if it would be ok if I blogged about it. "Wise? Me?" he replied and then graciously gave his permission. 

His comment was made in the context of Galatians 5:13-15. 
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. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Have you given much thought to what "freedom" means?  Here in Galatians 5 the freedom in context is freedom from the requirements of circumcision and other aspects of the law.  Paul wants them to understand that they are freed from the law (that they couldn't possibly keep because they were slaves to sin) in order that they could keep the very heart of the law-"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 

In other words the burdensome requirements of the law have been replaced with the joyful ability to do what we should have always wanted to do - love each other. When we are lost, it is barely within reach for us to genuinely WANT to love our neighbors.* Loving our friends and brothers, Jesus says is easy (Matthew 5:38-48). But neighbors are tough. They have eccentricities and noisy dogs; they look different, talk different, and think different than we do.  They impinge on our space, complain about us, gossip and grump.  And Jesus won't even let us pretend that only our nearest neighbors count.  He insists that our neighbors include all the people made in God's image (Luke 10:25-37).

When we were Satan's slaves, we were bound to his will. Our desire cried out every day.  We longed have our own way, to be the best, to be honored, admired, respected and to be the center of the universe. We thought it was our will, our own desires we were following; Satan let us think so.  But Satan is the author and supreme example of the voice of "ME!"  And when it's all about ME there is no way it can be about my neighbor too.  Christ Jesus set us free from that willfulness.

I am no longer bound to the law; I am no longer bound to the voice that cries "ME!"; it is now my precious joy to love.  John puts it this way, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).  We are able to love; we are free to love in a whole new way because our old clamoring self is dead and we are living clothed in Christ.  Joy.

And God sets us free.  Not free to be fools who bite and devour one another (Galatians 5:15).  Not free to be fools who impose unnecessary rules on our sisters and brothers (Galatians 5:1-6). Not even free to pursue our own desires.  But free to be joyous adults who love each other genuinely, sacrificially, and completely. 


*If you have questions about the difficulty in even WANTING to love our neighbors, I would point you to the news.  Race, immigration, homosexuality, and politics in general barely scratch the surface of the issues that are inspiring Americans to look over at their literal neighbors and hate them.

No comments:

Post a Comment