Sunday, July 16, 2006

Weekly Reflections on Freedom and Love (Galatians 4-6)

Today is Sunday, I’m at 30,000ft as I write this, winging my way from Tampa to Chicago for a corporate travel conference. It occurs to me that I am traveling farther today than Paul likely traveled during his entire time on earth.

Paul remained true to form throughout the balance of Galatians 4-6, with every verse reminding the Church that we are called to freedom and love and that slavery to anything - religion, lifestyle, rhetoric - is just that, slavery. Why choose to be bound, when freedom is available for the asking?

Galatians 5 v13-15 says “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?”

This reminds me of when our children choose to disobey Michael or me (or both!). It always falls upon us to tell them that they can choose their actions, but not the consequences. One thing I know, is that when Kiera and Sergey choose to love each other and to be kind and to honor Michael and I as their parents, that the consequence is a very good one. Love is freedom. It is so simple. I guess it is almost too simple, since so many people seem to either miss it or reject the notion.

Paul reminds us in Galatians that Abraham had two sons: one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. In the days of Hagar and Sarah, the child who came from faithless connivance (Ishmael the son of the slave) harassed the child who came—empowered by the Spirit—from the faithful promise (Isaac the son of Sarah who was both free and blessed by God with a son very late in life).

Throughout this week we witnessed intensifying conflicts in the Middle East. 2000 years later, the sons of Ishmael and Isaac are still at war and annihilation in this day of nuclear weapons is certainly possible. [Lord I pray for peace in the Middle East, even though it seems so very far away right now.]

Galatians 6 goes on to provide very practical instruction, what I call life lessons. Further to the part of chapter 5 that talks about the fruit of the Spirit (e.g. the consequences of living in love and freedom), here Paul reminds us that whatever we sow, we will reap. It isn’t possible to plant an apple seed and grow an avocado tree.

So, today, choose love and choose freedom. Be kind, accept the kindness of others. Forgive and accept the forgiveness of others.

My friend in Mozambique wrote me yesterday and told me that all of her skirts were stolen yesterday off the clothes line. Remembering that she can’t just pop over to the Super Walmart to get new ones, she really had to choose to forgive, rather than be angry over her loss. She When she forgave, she experienced freedom and then the overwhelming flood of God’s love. She reminds me with her own life lessons each day, how real God is and how true to His word.

Today I ask all who believe in the power of God to pray for my niece Sarah. She was in an ATV accident and broke her arm, her foot and some teeth. She has both nerve and vascular damage and they fear that she might lose her arm. I also lift up Cathy and Gail who both have cancer and my friend Lynn’s brother Clarke, who has been diagnosed with ALS. Also Clarke and his family live in Israel, so I also pray for protection for them.

Thanks for sharing my life and reflections this week. May you feel the power of his love and the fruits of the freedom that He has for you as a free gift today.

Next week, on to James, which begins with a discussion of the pressures of life. Let’s home there aren’t life lessons that accompany this one!

Chicke Fitzgerald

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