A Slave to Me

Life Notes—June 24, 2010

“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.’”  Galatians 5: 13-14 

One of my very favorite singer-songwriters, Dan Fogelberg, had a song on one of his early albums (Sweet Magnolia) that said, “Magnolia, now I see, that freedom isn’t free, and love’s the only true redeemer…”  It wasn’t a song about patriotism, as one might suspect; it was a song about love.  It told a story of two young people in love with their freedom, which in this case meant not being tied romantically to another.  After they part ways to pursue their respective freedoms they realize something within them has changed and their individual ‘freedom’ is no longer the treasure they once believed it to be. 

Maybe the connection is too random, but as I was contemplating the Bible passage above, the song popped into my head.  It has been years since I’ve thought about that song, but the line ‘freedom isn’t free’ haunted me for much of my early adulthood.  I was a bachelor until I was 33 years old and experienced very vividly that my ‘freedom’ wasn’t free.  Sure, I had time to myself, I had my home to myself, I could come and go as I pleased.  I was free to be me!  The problem was, wherever I went and whatever I chose to do, ‘me’ was always there, too.  I was a slave to ‘me,’ and wherever I went, there I was. 

Paul says we must use our freedom to become slaves to one another.  Dan Fogelberg says freedom isn’t free because love’s the only true redeemer.  But love must be shared.  To give and receive love requires relationship, and that requires a sacrifice of some degree of freedom.  While Paul isn’t specifically talking about romantic love, he is certainly talking about relationships and giving and receiving and utilizing the freedom we have been granted in Christ to perpetuate that flow of love, one to another. 

Paul notes that all of the Old Testament law can be summarized as, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  We are free to love freely: to give whatever gifts we possess, and to receive whatever comes back to us.  But we cannot do it alone.  Paul warns against using our freedom for self-indulgence.  That’s what I missed in my early adulthood.  I wanted it all for myself, and love doesn’t work that way.  Freedom isn’t a license for selfishness, but a foundation from which to love with abandon.  Love which springs from freedom is a redeeming love, at least according to two of my favorite writers, Paul and Dan. 

Kara’s sermon title this week is “Elijah 2: Seventh Generation,” based on the scripture 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14.  Life worship begins at 10:45 in Brady hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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