Free to Love
A sermon based on Galatians 5:1, 13-25 by Tim Hoffmann, 28 June 2004
The Good News is that through Christ we have been set free!
We are free from working out our own salvation! We are free from what binds us! We are free from the past from our fears and our anxieties. Freedom is yours! You are saved, be empowered!
What is stopping you from exercising the freedom you have?
Fear of Freedom
Do we claim our freedom or do we recoil from it? Are we afraid of our liberation. Would we prefer the security that a life, dictated by circumscribed rules and regulations, seems to offer? Do we secretly try and tick the boxes trying to put ourselves right with God? The early Christians in Asia Minor were about to settle for a life patterned on the Jewish way of life of circumcision and the diligent performance of certain rites and rituals. Paul said NO, this is not what it is all about. The Gospel is about what Christ has done for us and not what we can do.
Are we really trusting in our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer and what He has done? Trust in God and believe in yourselves, as liberated children made in the image of God.
Freedom is not permissiveness
However, yes there is a catch, God does not give us a freedom to be selfish and self centred. God does not want us to indulge in our own pleasure, power and prestige. Foe these attitudes and actions result in rivalry, envy and division. This freedom is not an excuse for the popular philosophy of life: a freedom to do what ever you like, to do what ever pleases you as long as it doesnt hurt others. Dont be caught up and wallow in you base human nature. Dont be enslaved by lust, envy and self-righteousness. There is no freedom in this.
Bodies and Spirits
This is not to mean that bodies and fleshly needs are to be denied and rejected. Our carnal nature is part of our created selves. Sexual passion is God given as well as our overall sensual experience of world around us. Our senses of touch, sight, smell, taste and hearing are an essential part of our God given human life. However our bodies, like our minds need to be placed in the service of God and integrated with our soul/spiritual self. In fact the life of faith is one of integrating our bodies and spirits. Of becoming whole.
I can personally attest to this. One special day in 1996, after 20 or so years of struggle and denial, I came to accept my sexuality. With a lot of courage I came into true wholeness and experienced the Love of God in a whole new way, marked by a joy that Ive never known before. In fact I told people at the time it was like falling in love with myself.
Dont deny your body but accept it as part of your whole self, loved and blessed by God.
We are free to LOVE
You are free. Now exercise your freedom to love and serve one another unconditionally. You are liberated to love.
Maybe another reason that we recoil from our freedom is that with it comes responsibility. We have the freedom to choose. Are we afraid of the choices we have? Do we prefer to rely on rulebooks and authorities to tell us what to do.
Maybe we feel that to love means to miss out ourselves. However it is not a game of pluses and minuses. To love others does not result in less love for ourselves.
Obviously, at a material level, to love and to give of our time, money and possessions results in denying these things only for ourselves. However at a spiritual non-materialistic level, which is what ultimately matters, to share, to love results in our lives becoming richer, rewarding and more meaningful.
This love is not expressed in actions, which if honestly examined, are again found to be deeds done to work towards our own salvation. True love does not produce deeds, which, unmasked, are carried out with resentment. Deeds marred by fear, guilt and ongoing self-judgement and anxiety. Deeds carried out to gain merit in the eyes of others, in the eyes of ourselves and ultimately in the eyes of God.
True love is unconditional. There are no underlying agendas. We all have our life long challenges to face in this area. For me beyond, just mere selfishness in general, I am learning to be humble in what I do. Not to feel compelled to tell others what I am doing, or what I have done for someone else.
How is God calling you to love? What are you doing now? Is it a burden or is it done with grace? What are the challenges for you?
Dance the life of love
This life of faith and love is in the here and now. The spiritual life is not about the existential experience of highs; dwelling on spiritual mountain tops divorced form reality and our human flesh and blood existence. True spirituality is located in ones historical bodily existence.
So what is our life of love like?
It is light and delightful but at the same time seriously intended.
It is practical where, even the day to day smallest of gestures for others, maybe of the greatest importance.
It is grounded in prayer, imbued by a deep inner peace.
It is focussed on drawing people into the light and life of Christ, and not on darkness and despair.
It is like a circle dance, where all join hands as a unified but diverse body. A dance which by its movement and vitality, others are drawn to it, shake loose the burdens that weigh them down and join in.
Dwell in God, claim your freedom and dance the life of love.