Free to Love
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Paul implores the Galatians to live in the freedom of Christ’s love rather than be slaves to the law. How does Christ’s love take us beyond the law? Why would we need to be encouraged to embrace freedom? In what ways do we still try to cling to the law?
Scripture: Galatians 5:1, 13-25
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
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Additional Background Information
Free to Love
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have decided to stick to love…..hate is too great a burden to bear.”
As I sit to write these words, our country is reeling from the worst mass shooting our country has every experienced. People (myself included) are posting opinions on social media, news outlets are scrambling to be the first to tell the most horrific details of the story, and families across the country are grieving for those gone too soon.
It will take time to understand what happened and what motivated this shooter. However, preliminary reports suggest that at least part of the motive was fear of other combined with a radical fundamentalism insists all who are different must die.
For me, the text for today offers some ounce of hope and light in this dark space. You see, Paul was writing to the Gentiles in Galatia and letting them know that it was okay for them to be different. It was okay if they way they practiced their faith was different from the way the Jews practiced the same faith. It was okay for them to have some different beliefs and they did not have to abide by a strict adherence to a set of laws because when you live in the spirit, you are free.
Living by the spirit means you are free to love without fear, you are free to be in the world knowing that Christ redeems you, you are free to practice your faith as God leads you to. It also means that we are free to not require everyone else to love as we love, worship as we worship, or even believe as we believe. Life in the spirit frees us from the burden of making everyone else like us and holding them to a strict set of laws. Rather we are free to love, to forgive, to offer grace and mercy.
The gift God gives us in the person of Jesus Christ is that we are freed to live our lives by the spirit of love rather than by a spirit of fear.
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Nikki’s Video Script
Free to Love
This week, we are looking at Galatians 5:1 and 13-25. As usual, I encourage you to read the verses between the verses of our focal text for the day.
In this text, Paul begins by saying that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. We were never intended to be slaves to the law, but rather to live in the freedom of Christ’s love. He goes on, in the verses that are left out, to tell the gentile Christians that not only are they not required to follow Jewish law by being circumcised, but that it may actually be harmful if they are, for then they are being judged by the law rather than the love of Christ.
When it pics up in verse 13, Paul goes on to remind the Gentile Christians that their freedom in Christ is not an opportunity for self-indulgence, but rather their freedom in Christ compels them to submit not only to the love of Christ, but also to one another in love. Freedom in Christ is not a call to frivolity and law-breaking, but rather the freedom to not be judged by the law. It is the opportunity to live by the leading of God’s Spirit rather than by their own human desires.
I think this is such an important conversation for today’s context in our world. There is such a culture of individualism, that we all think we can just live life for ourselves because “no one can tell me what to do.” We believe that there is freedom in living life just how we want to live it. But in the end, we are then only living as a slave to our own ways of believing and to the consequences of our actions. However, when we strive to live our lives compelled by the love and servant leadership of Christ, we find a greater freedom than we have ever known.
Paul reminds us that when we live by the spirit and are guided by God’s spirit, we will bear the fruit of the spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we live life this way, we do not have to be worried about any law, because we will know we are in the Spirit.
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