I have been thinking a great deal about how people relate to one another in this cultural moment… thinking about the tension and power plays between the political parties… between faith communities… between men and women… between the races. My own observation is that I see both the abuse of power and injustice on one side, then condemning and vengeful spirit when people fail on the other: the worst of both worlds! There is a lack of love in our world… a lack of even understanding what it means to love. And yet love is at the very heart of what God is seeking to work in this world.
Into the midst of our strife, God speaks a word of firm but loving correction. It comes to us from Galatians 5 where Paul is telling us that outward obedience to cultural norms… even religious norms… is not what the Christian spiritual life is about. Christ came to set us free from these performative acts so that we could be about the real work of God’s kingdom: love!
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justifiedby the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
“The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love”
Sometimes our focus on obeying the “rules”… the rules of convention so we are accepted by crowd… the rules of business so we can be a success… the rules of religion so God will accept us… takes our attention off truly caring for the people around us.
At times, people become a means of getting what we want from life.
We “love” people because we want them to love us back.
We have friends who share our interests, perspectives, politics… as a way of affirming our view of the world.
We push our children to achieve… in sports, in music, in academics… so we can feel pride… living vicariously through them.
And if I can be a bit blunt, there is an old saying that men give romance so they can get sex… and women give sex so they can get romance.
None of these are not love.
Its only when we know that we are loved for our Creator that we can be freed to actually love those around us.
Love must be born of freedom… otherwise our “love” becomes transactional… something we give so we can receive.
Our religion can become transactional… we obey so God will love us.
But Christ has set us free. In Christ, God gives himself away to us freely to set us free to give ourselves away freely to others.
Can you believe you are loved by God? When we trust that… and trust is just another way of talking about faith… when we trust in God’s love for us, it changes us.
It sets us free from our anxieties and worries about rejection, the future.
And then we can give ourselves away freely… not out of obligation.
If this is the way you would like to live your life, consider putting your trust in the love of God for you… it you might find yourself being set free in a way you have never know before.
I pray we all experience more of that freedom this week for our good and God’s glory!
Blessings on you all!