Love and Freedom

Life Notes—April 11, 2013 

“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 favorite singer/songwriter/recording artists over the past several decades has been Dan Fogelberg.  He had a wonderful talent for uniting intriguing lyrics with beautiful melodies, and many of his songs held me spellbound for many listenings over many years.  One of his lesser known songs is “Sweet Magnolia,” a story of two young, independent souls whose paths cross in a fierce romantic way.  The line in the song that has stuck with me since first hearing it in the 1980’s is this:  “Magnolia, now I see, that freedom isn’t free, and love’s the only true redeemer…”  The two young people who fell madly in love, also held a similarly impassioned love for their freedom.  As is often the case, love and freedom, when not properly understood or handled, do not always peaceably co-exist. When focused exclusively on freedom, one often longs for the blessings that come from freely giving up at least a portion of that freedom.  And, of course, the opposite can also be true.  But very often, giving up a portion of one’s freedom to serve another person in love, like in marriage, can actually result in an exponentially more freeing experience.  Thus the line, “love’s the only true redeemer.” 

Paul’s letter to the Galatians considers freedom and love; not romantic love per se, but love for others.  He says we are called to freedom.  Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection, redeemed us from our enslavement to sin and provided the opportunity for a new life through faith.  Redemption brings freedom; and much of what had been forbidden by the law became permissible. But just because something is permissible does not make it a wise or preferred choice.  We have free will to choose one path over another, but Paul warns not to use our freedom for self-indulgence, but to serve one another in love.  Love is a verb and requires action.  Action requires a sacrifice of freedom, as choosing one action necessarily means not choosing another. And what is love without freedom, or freedom without love?  No one wants to be loved by another who is forced to love them.  We want to be loved by those who chose to do so of their own free will.  Love finds its highest expression in sacrifice. And freedom finds its highest expression in love.  Like Jesus on the cross. Love is the true redeemer.

Tom preaches downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Tom’s sermon is “The Power of Vision,” based on II Corinthians 1:1-11.  Reverend Sharon Howell will be installed as Pastor Emerita at the west campus services, where Mitch will preach at 9:00 and 11:00.

Come home to church this Sunday.  Exercise your freedom in love…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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