By the Backroom Theologian. I am not quite sure what to make of this week’s Epistle. Galatians 5:1,13-25 gives a list of things we ought not to be doing. I read through the list. It resembled my Friday night activities when I was going Ohio State. On top of all the problems my activities caused with God…I had to remember where I parked my car every Saturday morning. As we grow older, however, we learn not to do those things if for no other reasons we don’t have the stamina to pursue them. If I can stay awake past 9:30 I have accomplished something.
It is the other part of this week’s Epistle I find inspiring, and especially appropriate for the times in which we live. It says:
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another…By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
As I look across the political landscape of our great nation, I see people devouring each other. We are being consumed by our own self-righteous indignation and intolerance for each other. That is the worse form of self-indulgence: indulging our own egos. We are free because Christ made us free. In that freedom there are many temptations. We all succumb because we are all human. But in the end...those are false freedoms.
True freedom is found in the love of one another. We don’t have to agree on every single point of life. But we can agree that our freedom is based on our ability to get along despite our differences. God gave us that freedom. It is ours to lose.
To accomplish that goal, we must follow the list God gave us on to how to get along. I call them the “wonderful” virtues. Be generous to those with whom we disagree. Maintain self-control when you want to hurt somebody either physically or with words. Be patient with those around you. Look for peace in yourself. Look for joy in the world. No matter what we believe or do with our politics, our money, our personal vices, our egos…our freedom is found in our salvation through God which transcends all of that.
It is important not to sweat the small stuff. You are burdening yourself with things that are not important. One hundred years from now, nobody will remember whatever issue you might be having. We will be lucky to have folks cutting the grass over our graves.
That is what gives us freedom today…to walk away from our disagreements…to work together for common goals…and know that our future is secure in the God’s great benevolence.