Monday, June 21, 2010

How do we live free: Galatians 5:1,13-25

Greetings to any and all readers,
I took a week away from this blog and most other activities for Vacation Bible School. It was a week imagining being on a High Seas Adventure while studying the Book of Acts.
Back in the routine I looked back to what I'd written before about this week's readings; but as Jesus makes clear, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” ( Luke 9:62 NIV) You can read my comments from 3 years ago about Luke 9:51-62, if you'd like, but I'm looking in a different direction.
I'd like to push into different terrain this week, Christian Freedom. Paul wrote, "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 NRSV

Paul's letter to the church in Galatia is a message of hope for the people Jesus died to set free. Paul put it simply, " were called to freedom.." (Galatians 6:13) Our freedom is a gift that starts with Jesus. But reading on in Galatians 5:1,13-25 we see the challenges to our freedom defined. Martin Luther wrote,

This is the freedom with which Christ has set us free, not from some human slavery or tyrannical authority but from the eternal wrath of God.
Where? In the conscience. This is where our freedom comes to a halt; it goes no further. For Christ has set us free, not for a political freedom or a freedom of the flesh but for a theological or spiritual freedom, that is, to make our conscience free and joyful, unafraid of the wrath to come (
Matt. 3:7). This is the most genuine freedom; it is immeasurable. Luther's Works, Vol. 27 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 5-6; 1519, Chapters 1-6, ( ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan et al.;, Luther's Works Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1964).
Luther had a troubled conscience. His ministry spread the same Good News that brought him peace: the total freedom that comes as a gift to those who follow Christ. But Paul warns us not to surrender the gift. The price of our freedom was Jesus body and blood; and we sell that very same body and blood bought freedom very cheaply. Paul even warns his readers

the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idoolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,envy,drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NRSV.

Temptations of all kinds assail us; that's the enemy at work to undercut our freedom. Jesus says we are to follow him and not look back. Paul knew first had about what we give up when we follow. And he knows that it is only in letting go of everything that we might claim as our own in the past, present, and future that we will be free. Paul says we are to live by the Spirit. It only sounds simple. May God help us to live by the Spirit free as he intends. AMEN.

1 comment:

Nancy Marshall said...

Hi Unlikely,
Last night our New Believer's Bible Study focused on John 8:31-47 which seems to be right along the lines of the Galatians passsage. "If you continue to obey my teaching, you are my true followers. Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free." Teens are into "freedom" but that freedom implies obedience to no one. "Freedom" to them is independence...which they sign "my decide". We have freedom to "decide" but the question is to whom will we show allegience? If you choose to be followers of the truth, Jesus' teachings, which is a hard choice and not as simple as the words, as you say...this obedience leads to freedom from the struggle with sin, or freedom from the battle for you allegience. It's an interesting, difficult, important concept to explain to teens!
Thanks for the notes and thoughts.
Warm wishes to you from Belize.