Monday, July 25, 2016

How we can Choose the Path of Love

Galatians 5:13-15 (MSG): Acting as Agents of Love

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

Spiritual freedom is a gift God grants through faith and without cost; it cannot be earned. Although we are given this freedom, it is how we employ it in our lives that makes a difference.

Our freedom came when Christ died for each of us on the cross. We were free the moment God, the creator of the universe, took on the flesh of humanity and then offered it up as an act of love for each of us. Paul, in effect, reminds the Galatians that they are free through their faith in Jesus. No works, offerings, or observances of the law can earn one’s righteousness with God.  Jesus satisfied this on the cross for each of us. And it is through our faith in him that we are made free.

Paul’s letter applies to us, too. We are given great freedom through our faith to live any way we choose. But as Paul warns, we should not take this freedom for granted, doing whatever we please to whomever we choose. We are called as Christians to love each other, and neighborly love, as Paul reminds us, is the essence of living in Christ: “For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself.” Our freedom in Christ, then, is a choice to act in love. We can choose to either love our neighbor as ourselves or backbite, persecute, slander, and destroy God’s image and likeness. Through temptation, the latter comes easy; the former happens through our commitment to God who is love (1 John 4:8).

My son asked me the other day, “Dad, why is it that all we see on Twitter and Instagram is about people killing and hating on each other?” I thought hard about it.  My answer came from some commentary I read. When we see an evil act as the center of attention, we need to widen our view and look to the margins. There we will see the helpers, people offering themselves as a refuge to protect, rescue, and console the afflicted. It is our job to love even when evil is at the center.

I pray that we all choose to live as agents of love, especially on the margins of life.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.

Stan