Freedom in Christ
I've always found it fascinating to talk with young women and men who are getting ready to enter college. You can just tell how excited they are about the new life they'll soon begin. Even if they don't leave home to continue their education, they are eager to experience greater freedom, and many more opportunities than they've had before.
I was a lot like that when I was in their situation. Freedom is what I wanted. I had had it with regimentation, rules and restrictions. But what did I do with my new-found freedom when I went to college? I discovered the Student Commons, a building dedicated to student services, student organizations, and conveniences. I loved the "buzz" of the place, and I decided to find a spot to study right there.
Now you can imagine what happened. There would be a neat film, or a meeting of a group that was planning an action. There would be an exciting speaker, or just a group of kids playing music and jamming around. All my good intentions got side tracked, and I really had to double down to make passing grades at the end of my first semester.
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Galatians, addresses the question of what to do with freedom. First he clarified that while Christ set you free from alienation and sin in your baptism, you're not a lawless, autonomous person. Then he told those gentile believers that they shouldn't submit to circumcision and other practices of the Jewish tradition because that would make them slaves of the law.
He insisted that love was the fulfillment of the law. "Follow the way of Jesus," he said. "Use your freedom to become slaves to one another and servants of love to the community."
Paul then describes the work of the Spirit in our lives, and gives a wonderful list of "fruits of the Spirit." These fruits usually don't pop up automatically. You and I don't need to be instructed to be bitter, or resentful, or self-indulgent, but things like love, generosity and faithfulness need learning and practice.
It will take most of us a lifetime, but that's O.K. The more we allow God's Spirit to dwell in us, the more we can grow until we get it perfect.
Thanks be to God for giving us the option to live in this freedom.
Peace and grace,
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