“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
Freedom describes one of our most valuable aspirations. Everyone wishes to have a chance for a fulfilled life. Primary to freedom is the chance to choose how life will be lived and enjoyed.
Life and culture tend to throttle dreams and strangle fulfillment. The year 2020 has been a year of lost freedoms.
The pandemic has prevented worship, sports, family reunions, vacations, and even the privilege to shop in public or enjoy fellowship with one another. With the loss of freedoms, tempers flare and patience wear thin. We may be divided in describing how freedom should be expressed, but we are unified in saying we don’t see freedom in our current expressions. What should freedom look like?
Freedom should be seen as a blessing. Jesus came to remove the chains of our fallen nature so that we might be free to be what God originally intended. We have been, “called into the grace of God.” (Galatians 1:6) Our freedom in Christ is a second chance, a time to try again to live a life free from the wickedness, and trouble created in our world by those who live as slaves to destructive ways.
Freedom should be something we share. Paul addressed those he encouraged to live as “brothers.” Freedom, more than a privilege, is a responsibility. Christians should see freedom as something offered to all. The freedom in Christ is not meant to be hoarded; it is meant to be shared. True freedom excludes no one. In true freedom, there is no “them and us.” The Lord made us free to be “family.”
Freedom should be an opportunity to love others. Love is the fulfillment of laws and threats that never gave us freedom. Before Jesus mankind grew weary with endless rules that were to make man righteous. All they did was to make us weary from the burden of seeking freedom in rules.
Real freedom is found in how we take care of one another. We wish the best on others. We give that others might enjoy. We walk the second mile that someone might see beyond themselves.
Freedom has always been expressed in service to others. Our nation’s history is a diary of patriotism expressed in sacrifice that others might enjoy freedom. That sacrifice has been paid by all races, creeds, rich and poor, young and old, man and woman.
This mindset is the consummate description of how the Christian should live every day. It will be that some express freedom by protecting us from foreign threats. But, may we never forget that we perpetuate freedom at home by giving of ourselves in love to our fellow man.
May we all experience a new freedom in Christ to love anyone we meet today.
Dr. John Temple is chaplain of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office. From the Shepherd’s Heart is published Fridays in The Meridian Star.