|Exodus 30; John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5|
Whether you love it or hate it, choose to directly engage or simply endure the fallout, the road to the November 2016 presidential election is weighing heavy on Americans these days. Unfortunately I’m not sure there is a way to escape this drama, even if you wanted to. It is almost always the first story in Gerard Baker’s daily 10 Point guide to The Wall Street Journal and it is on every news channel all day long. An email from John Kasich actually showed up in my office inbox last week to request my vote in the Illinois primary! Each of the candidates has a different view, a different approach, and vastly different plans for our nation. It is this diversity of thought (and a lot of media hype) that fuels the craziness. As we have witnessed over the course of 20+ debates, these Candidates agree on very little. Furthermore, they are really passionate about their disagreements. I am confident, however, they would all agree on one thing. Each of them would find truth in some variation of the same guiding principle – every one of them loves the United States, and is committed to protecting her and the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this great country (even thought they would go about it in vastly different ways).
The first freedom granted in the United States Bill of Rights is Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press. It grants every U.S. citizen the right to practice a religion of their choice. I am deeply grateful for this freedom. Unlike Christians in many countries, I can worship God without breaking the law and, generally, without fearing for my safety. Don’t get me wrong, I realize persecution may show up in a variety of other ways, but today, by law, I can freely worship God.
Galatians 5 is all about Freedom. The chapter begins with this statement, for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. The freedom Paul is talking about here is freedom from a long list of Old Testament laws. It is also about freedom from sin. Jesus died to free us from our sin. Notice this freedom isn’t about doing whatever we want, as that behavior leads us back to the bondage of sin, rather it is the freedom to glorify God by loving and serving others.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Biting and devouring one another is what I remember the March 3 republican debate looking like. The candidates hurled so many insults, they seemed dangerously close to “consuming” one another. It is so ironic that the race for the top government servant, involves so much nastiness. Personally, I saw very little love for the United States or for its citizens in the discussion that night, even though I know it exists. Fortunately for most of us, our everyday life is not played out on national television. That said, a similar nastiness has a tendency to creep into our lives in other ways. Reflect on your actions of today, this week or last month. Were they motivated by love? Were they motivated by serving others? God calls us to be different.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.