Nov 20, 2013

On the Freedom of Love (Part 2)

If you missed yesterday's Part 1 on Freedom, I suggest you read it first. Now on to today's post:

I enjoyed Veterans Day this year.  I went to the zoo for a fun day with the kids.  Does anyone else find it ironic that I spent a day celebrating the people who gave us freedom in a place filled with cages? I mean, I'm just sayin'. OK, that was just an awkward side note.

 However, I did have the presence of mind before we left the house to grab the flag and take a picture of my kids holding it.  We all know why they can hold it up proudly.  Because of the veterans and troops today that have protected it.  I sent it as a text message thank you to all the veterans in my family.    Ok, pretty lame, but it was the best I could do upon waking up and remembering why the mail hadn't come.  Wait, I just sounded even lamer considering. They gave something that took quite a bit of sacrifice on their faith that our country and it's freedoms are worth it.

Yesterday, I finished up my post on freedom with the words:

"What does this new (free) life look like? It's not slavery to sin. It's a freedom from laws. It's good. It's life. But it's not works we do. How exactly does that fit together?  Glad you asked."

Actually, you probably didn't ask, but I'm still going to write this post, mkay?
*crickets*

So today, my thoughts are flipping to the book of Hebrews before I return to Ephesians and Galations from yesterday.
In Hebrews, there's this neat little chapter about those who had faith and are a good example of faith.  So if I want to know what faith looks like, I should look at this neat little example left for us here. It's very inspiring as the author was trying to pump up whoever the reader was to keep chugging forward in their faith. In Hebrews 11, there is the list of all the people in Old Testament and what they did by faith.  So it's an example of those who were called to action by faith because they realized God and the new life and freedom He offers is worth everything.
You know, kinda like on Veterans Day, we celebrate those who were called to action to promote freedom because they thought it was worth everything.  So we have parades, speeches, flags, animals in cages (K, that last one was just me this year).

That being said, we also are told in the Bible that it's not the things we do (works) that save us but faith. (Ephesians 2:9)

So huh? I just read a big ol' Biblical parade about all the things these people did out of faith.  What for? Gosh, for years I was so confused about how this fit together.

A little phrase in Galations 5:6 sums it up.  "faith working through love."
This is what faith looks like.  It's the freedom...to love.  It is a call to action, but not a call to follow a bunch of religious laws.  It's certainly not obeying a list of laws to gain favor. That is not freedom.  That's trading one form of slavery for another.

Galations 5:13-14,16,18
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.......But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

 Cue an Ah-Ha moment. It's not the freedom to go back to former bondage of sin, but rather that we finally do have the power to choose love instead of sin.  And that ability to choose love is freedom.  Not only that, but I have the Spirit of God dwelling in me.  That power now breathes new life.  All the qualities of God (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law - Gal. 5:22-23) are available to me.

As our church likes to say, if you're just caught up in religion but fail to grasp this idea of freedom, you will fall into "try hard, do good, fail.  Try harder, do good, fail. Try harder, do good, fail, burn out, give up - syndrome".   It's a deathly disease in church's today.

It's not about trying hard and being "good".  It's about grasping the freedom of love.  We can never "try hard" enough to love the people around us.  We'll fail.  Daily, I fail.  My kids and husband will attest to that.  But I can attest, that each and every time I have the choice to dig into love and the source is not from me.  I can always look to the source.

I used to fall into "should" syndrome.  You know..."I should do this, I should do that...."  It's not a very free way to live.  I would much rather live each moment as a prompting to accept the freedom to love at that moment.  I might not make that right choice, but at least I have a choice, and the source for the power to make the right one lives right in me.  

God doesn't demand the perfection of your life, but the direction.  It starts with digging deep into the character and personhood of God with time spent at the source.  Little by little, bit by bit, the direction is turned as I learn to choose the freedom of loving and turn away from my old master, sin.

As James 2 says, "Faith without works is dead."  That doesn't mean that I have to try hard and save myself by my works.  No, no.  James is not saying we have to work to get our salvation. Here is what he is saying:   If you cannot choose love, the question begs, aren't you still a slave to the old master sin?  Are you really free?  Have you found freedom?  Freedom means that we can start choosing a different way of living that was cut off from us before.  It is now open to us.
James 2:26 "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
I mean if you aren't going to start exercising your freedom, then you are showing that you are still dead on the inside, in slavery.  Choosing to stay in that zoo cage when the door has been left wide open.

So, get out of the zoo.

Dig into the source.  You can have freedom to choose love over self.  True love comes from the source, and points to the source.

  While by no means perfect, I'm out of the zoo, and it's very very freeing.

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