I reckon all of us want to be free. Free to do what we want, when we want. If we had no restrictions, like money, or time, we could just pack up and go on holidays, travel to distant lands or hang by the beach. Forever.
Doesn’t that sound great?
I reckon that sounds absolutely smashing. But, here’s the issue. What if what I desire doesn’t match up with God wants? Will he be happy with me spending all my time at the beach? Or exploring his world?
What if what I desire isn’t what God had in mind when he created me?
Wow, for a moment there, I was thinking I was about to have an existential crisis.
Hang on… I think I am. Paul is saying here that unless we don’t have an existential crisis, one which shifts our desires away from serving ourselves to serving others in love, we’re not living up to what God desires for us.
Have a look at Galatians 5:13.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
So, Paul is saying that if we’re not using our freedom to serve each other, then we’re not actually free. And the flip side of that is if we use our freedom to indulge our own desires, or our flesh, we’re not really free. True freedom is not indulging our own fleshly desires, but indulging others in humble love.
So, an extended holiday which serves only myself is not in line with God’s freedom. (Oh man, I better cancel that two-year holiday the Maldives.)
Paul tells the Galatians, and us, that true freedom only comes from God. We are free because God released us to bondage to sin and death and the law by sending Jesus to his death.
But telling us that we’re free isn’t enough.
Paul gives us a reason to live the free life that Jesus died for us to live.
See that in verse 14?
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Wow. So, the whole entire OT law is fulfilled by one command. Love. Simples!
Which makes things easier and harder at the same time. It makes things easier because its simple. Love. But it makes it harder because love looks different for a variety of people. For the injured and the sick, it might mean physically caring for them. For the lonely, it means spending time with them, even at great cost to our time with our family or our friends. For the lost, love means proclaiming the gospel in concert with loving them from the heart.
And that’s hard. Especially if they don’t want to hear it or be changed by the gospel.
The call of the gospel is one which completely challenges our desires. The gospel exposes them for what they truly are. They are selfish and contrary to what God wants. God has called us to freedom, not to serve ourselves but to love each other sacrificially. And do you know what? When we love each other we are truly free. Free to do it and truly expressing our freedom in Christ. How are we going at that?