It’s Friday. The weekend beckons. We have free time to enjoy and to worship. Paul writes to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Freedom not only for the weekend, but for time and eternity. Now that’s what I call freedom. Free from the shackles of the law. Free from the consequences of our sin. Free from slavery to ungodliness.
But Paul has more to say about our newfound freedom. He warns his readers against using their liberty as an excuse for self-indulgence to pursue a dissolute and decadent lifestyle, for which Jesus has not set them free.
Then for what purpose? It’s really quite simple, yet hard to perform. Paul writes, “Through love become slaves to one another.” Freedom to become slaves? I knew there was a catch. It seemed too good to be true. But it’s not. Jesus grants us life as we give ourselves to others. It’s simple, yet we see so little evidence among us. How often do we think about someone else rather than ourselves? Before we open our mouths, do we consider others’ feelings? Does our lifestyle brag about our possessions? This is not the type of freedom for which we’ve been set free.
In Jesus, we’re free to invest in others. When I was a financial planner, my primary purpose was not to make the most money for myself. Others assured me that the more I could help others achieve their financial dreams, the fewer nightmares I would have about money.
The same premise holds true for followers of Jesus: The more we help others, the more free we will feel. Invest in the spiritual and worldly lives of others. Jesus set us free to love one another; this is freedom as it was meant to be.
Lord, we want to live our lives for you and for others. Thank you for this kind of freedom in Jesus. Amen.
This week’s readings open with the dramatic scene of Elijah’s departure. As the prophet is taken into heaven by fiery chariots, his cloak falls to his successor, Elisha—symbolic of the continuation of God’s prophetic work. The psalmist praises the Lord for being the source of all good. The Lord gives guidance, protection, security, and joy. Paul reminds us that freedom in Christ comes with responsibility. We cannot live to satisfy our fleshly desires. If we live in the power of the Spirit, then our manner of life should stand out and bear godly fruit. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers with the cost of discipleship. His statements here may seem extreme, but he is pointing out that we can be tempted to find excuses for not proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Read 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. When has fire—real or metaphorical—changed your life? How have you seen God working in this change?
Read Psalm 16. Recall a time when you needed God’s protection. How did you keep God in front of you?
Read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Along with our freedom, we are given a responsibility. How do you use your freedom to serve others?
Read Luke 9:51-62. When have you heard Jesus’ call to follow? What have you had to leave behind to follow the one who has “set his face to go to Jerusalem”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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