“13For 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. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14
“Freedom” is an interesting concept. Everybody wants freedom: Children, teens, adults, the elderly. No one wants to be controlled, everyone wants to be free. But, what does it mean to be ‘free?’ What are the freed free to do? What are they freed to not do?
When we are young we yearn to grow up to be free. What we don’t realize, in our youth, is that adult responsibility prevents running free with unbridled abandon. We make choices to trade our “freedom” for responsibility. We accept a job, we give up some freedom. We marry, we give up some freedom. We have children, we give up a lot of freedom. We willingly trade in our freedom. But what is “freedom?” The Oxford dictionary defines it as, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Do you ever have that? Can you ever act however or say whatever you want without restraint? In public, at least, the answer is “no.” In the church, the answer is “no.” So what freedoms do you have? The entire concept begins to seem illusive. Adam and Eve were free, well… except for that one little rule, that one fruit to not eat. They did the one thing they were not free to do. Luther, in 1520, wrote, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” This is a great statement. At first glance it seems simple enough. When you start to ponder it, however, the simplicity gives way to waves of complexity. Finally, is a Christian free or not? The answer is “YES!” The Christian is free, at long last, free indeed. Your debt has been paid. You are free. Sin and death no longer determine a grime fate. You are free. Everything is freedom. Luther’s point is this: Now that you are free from sin, death and the devil (though they still haunt you in this life, they cannot take you away from God or his love for all eternity,) you no longer are enslaved to the task of saving yourself. Jesus has already saved you, period. And he left no part of your salvation for you to do. You are freed from all that struggling and failing, and struggling and failing. You are free.
What are you to do? With all this freedom, what are you to do? Go to the second sentence of Luther’s statement. You are free to serve your neighbor. You are free to serve the man down the street and the woman struggling to get her groceries in the car. You are free to humble yourself before the person who accuses you of wrong doing. You are free to worry about the people that are overlooked or underfed. You don’t have to worry about getting your life right, or about saving yourself, or even about what anyone else thinks of you. You are freed from yourself, to serve someone else. You are freed from worrying about yourself, so you can help a friend or a stranger. You no longer have to establish your position before others, or dress to make a desired impression, or play silly games to fit into someone else’s mold. You are free in Christ and He lives in you. You are not whole because you made yourself whole. You are whole because HE lives in you and HE makes you whole and HE makes you free. Go, in your freedom, and serve the Risen Lord.