The freedom to serve … or not

Following Christ is pretty awesome. There’s no other life like it because most other lifestyles are bogged down with religious ritual and obligations. Truly living like Christ, truly following God, is a freedom that no other “faith system” even tries to pretend it has.

The irony is that so many Christians don’t really understand the freedom they have, and they spend their lives trying to prove themselves to God by doing good works and demonstrating how good they can be. And there really isn’t anything wrong with that, I guess. But the fact remains that we can’t be good and we have nothing to prove to God. So why would we even try if we know it’s our faith that saves us? Maybe it’s because we’re all performance-driven people. I know I am.

On the other side of the fence, many people believe that we have to do something to earn our salvation because if God just gives out salvation without any expectation on our part, we can break all the rules we want with no punishment. We can do everything that’s wrong with no one to check our behavior. Well, that’s not right either. If you do something wrong, you’re going to have to face the consequences of that action whether you’re a believer or not. And while you may not lose your eternal salvation, you might lose the blessing you could have received if you had done the right thing. There are consequences for everything.

Homemade chicken yakisoba

Homemade chicken yakisoba

Today’s verse is Galatians 5:13.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Freedom is a terrible privilege, both in life and in faith. And it’s a tremendous responsibility.

Even in governmental systems, the more freedom a country has the more ethical its citizens need to be. Because there’s no government to keep them in check. We in the United States get all up in arms because our government has gotten to big and so powerful. Well, if we had all maintained our ethical and moral responsibility to be good citizens … it probably wouldn’t have been necessary.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French historian who lived in the early-to-mid 1800s, said it best: “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

The same is true of our lives when we are set free by Christ. We can choose to live our new lives however we want. We can chase every selfish dream, every great ambition, everything anyone else in the world would pursue. Or we can choose to serve others.

The photo really doesn’t have much to do with the thought today, except that it’s a batch of homemade chicken yakisoba I made for some folks who came out to stay at my house some time ago. It didn’t turn out very well, I don’t think. But it looks pretty. And the concept behind it is somewhat relevant. God has given me a house, and He’s given me the resources to help other people. It’s my choice what to do with those resources, though. If I want to keep them all to myself, that’s fine. But what am I missing out on if I don’t share?

It all comes down to your eternal perspective. If you believe that this world is the pinnacle of our lives, then you’re going to live to get everything you can get out of this world. But if you believe that the best is yet to come, you’re going to live in a way that demonstrates that this world isn’t your home.

But even if you live for the life to come, you have to remember that we’re here for a reason. God put each of us where we are so we can learn something, so we can serve each other. We are supposed to live in a way that puts other people before us. We’re supposed to live in a way that honors others more than ourselves. We’re supposed to love the people who don’t understand us, who use us, who say terrible things about us. We’re supposed to serve people who hurt us and disappoint us and who we don’t agree with.

Hey, Christians! What would the people you disagree with think if you did something nice for them instead of grumbling behind their backs or giving them a hard time?

Serve people. Love people. Stand up and do what God says. You have the freedom to choose what you’re going to do today. You can choose how you react to what life (and Satan) throws at you today. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you disagree with. How would you like to be treated?

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