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The Love Blog: Galatians 5:13

March 15, 2007

So the question now is this: Now that you know that you are free from the bondage and curse of the law and free from slavery to sin, what are you supposed to do with all this freedom? Now I know you know the answer because we just read the verse. You are to serve one another in love. But let me ask you if you have really internalized that answer. Do you really understand that this is what you are to do with your life now that you are free from sin?

If you don’t know what to do with your freedom, if you are not clear on that question, then you will suffer what sociologist Emile Durkheim called “anomie”. This is one of the few things that has really stuck with me from my undergraduate education. We read in Sociology 100 an essay by Durkheim called “On Suicide” He gave 4 different reasons why people are driven to suicide. One is a feeling of constraint, being trapped, but another is exactly the opposite and that is what he called anomie, from the Greek word meaning without law or w/o boundaries, directionless. It is the vertigo you would feel if you were out on a raft in the middle of the ocean with nothing but blue from horizon to horizon. That kind of directionless, absolute freedom drives people insane. If you are put together like me, you may have romantic notions about that mystic contemplation of the infinite, but you can’t really live like that. You could enjoy being out on that raft for maybe a half an hour, but you can’t live there. You eventually go nuts. You need some direction, you need something to do. 

And I believe that it is this feeling of directionlessness that can lead Christians from hobby to hobby, from vice to vice, from worldly pursuit to worldly pursuit because they haven’t yet learned what to do with their freedom.  And so I hope that you will receive Paul’s answer this evening because it is the path of joy and meaning.  The answer is serve one another in love.

serve – same as enslave. same as 5:1! When you were a slave to sin it was involuntary slavery, you were mastered by sin.  When you submit to a yoke of slavery by being a legalist you are doing so voluntarily, but it is a foolish, childish, burdensome choice. 

But to voluntarily choose slavery to others in love is a deep source of joy.  In fact it is the path of freedom.  Freedom to become a person of love, freedom to become Christlike. 

So Paul only presents us with these 2 options. You will either abuse your freedom by indulging the flesh, or you will use your freedom to love others.

We need to understand our battle with sin in the context of the command to love.  The moral imperative of the Christian life is not just “stop sinning” but “pursue love” and you can’t do one without the other. Can’t turn from flesh without turning towards serving others in love.

We are frequently frustrated in our struggle with sin because we oppose it in such a self-centered way.  We hear ourselves talking about my struggle and my sin and my victory and my defeat and my sanctification and the way my sin makes me feel bad about my self.  And we are stuck in a quagmire of selfishness.  We need to think rather about how our sin keeps us from loving others and then turn from sin by turning towards others in love.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul permalink
    March 16, 2007 11:16 am

    What does this “serve one another in love” look like? Do you have examples?

  2. March 21, 2007 11:14 am

    For me right now, it means going to bed at a decent hour so that I can wake up energized to help my wife wake up the kids so that they’ll be at the breakfast table by 7:30am so that I can read the Bible to them. It means not being impatient or short with the kids (that usually comes from self-absorption, they’re interrupting the “important” stuff going on in your head). It means practicing hospitality. It means listening and refraining from talking too much about myself when I’m drinking beer with future ministry leaders.

  3. Paul permalink
    March 25, 2007 9:48 am

    Thanks for the examples. I find them quite helpful in understanding what this attitude may look like when worked out in real life.

  4. redmingungit permalink
    September 1, 2009 3:02 pm

    i think i suffer “anomie,” if i understand it correctly. i experience an insufferable freedom from social ties. i have no one to love or be loved by. no reason to live.

    well, that’s how i usually interpret my life. i hope i’m starting to belong at CEFC.

  5. Romans5 permalink
    December 16, 2009 6:18 am

    I am new to this blog, but I would love to see this discussion expanded. Getting away from a me-centered way of thinking, and moving towards serving one another in love may be one of the most significant challenges the Lord lays upon us.

    My eyes and heart wonder to Romans 14 as I read Galatians 5:13. Destroying one another through judgement tears apart the Lord’s Kingdom. Who am I to judge God’s servant? If I am able to remove judgement of others from my life, well first off, I take a step off God’s toes. Secondly, I am able to move more easily towards loving others and away from me-centered thinking. Judgement is me-centered, as our judgement is based on our core beliefs.

    If someone is ranting about something which does not meet your core beliefs, do you not judge first, fail to listen second, and miss an opportunity to share ideas and love your fellow man third.

    Who are you more likely to show hospitality towards…should we make a judgement, no. Who are we to take time to care of…should we judge, no.

    All this talk, of course, points to the importance of strong community.

    What else?

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