Friday, June 17, 2016

Year C, Proper 8, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Bound to be free, and free to be Bound

"For freedom, Christ has set us free. . .
       .  .  . but through love become slaves to one another."

Free to become slaves.  

Love is a strange thing.  One the one hand, it is by necessity tied to freedom.  You cannot demand love.  It cannot be coerced or compelled.  It cannot be controlled.  You cannot force it upon another.  You cannot demand it, even of yourself.  For love to be  love at all it must by necessity be freely given, freely received.  And so there is  no greater freedom than that which is experienced in love.

"The whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Imagine living in a land in which there is only one law, this law.  An oxymoron at its best, commanding love.  

On the other hand, there is no greater compelling force in all of life than this simple thing we call love.  With it we become vulnerable.  Once experienced, it changes everything.  Nothing else is important.  Everything else becomes subject to love, and what love entails.  Love becomes our Lord.  That which I would have never dreamed about doing while I was 'free', I cannot imagine not doing now that I'm in love.  Love calls us to surrender, to submit, to become slaves to one another, freely.  Its hard to imagine 'freely' becoming a 'slave'.  

Love makes no demand of us, except to demand of us everything, even to giving our lives. 

We live in a land in which we are willing to go to any length to defend our freedom.  Wars have been fought.  "Freedom doesn't come free."  People arm themselves with weapons and a whole list of other things, such as security systems, police forces, constitutions, all with one purpose -- to protect our freedoms by restraining others.  (One of the greatest ironies of all in today's political climate is that the right to bear arms is resulting in our police forces being 'militarized', so as to not be outgunned.  In the name of freedom, we are becoming more and more subject to a militarized rule.  The local constable is being replaced with SWAT Teams.  And we call this freedom."

I learned something from a Quaker colleague a while back.  We were discussing non-violence, a central tenant of the Quaker faith.  And we couldn't resist pushing her, seeing if we could get her to admit that there were some situations where she would in fact resort to violence.  "What if you were being raped?"  "Or your child was being raped?"  "No." was the response.  "Never resort to violence in resisting violence, for to do so is to become one with the very thing you most despise.  Its not that you cannot resist, you just do not do so violently."  

Love means that we are willing to be vulnerable.  

This is the thing we do not understand.  You see, if you want to be  truly free, you cannot respond to the threat of someone with an AR-15, by purchasing two for yourself.  

"He could have called, ten thousand angels, to destroy the world, and set him free.  But he died alone, for you and me."

You see, that is what love does.  

This is the mystery.  It is counter intuitive.  To be truly free, you must freely accept vulnerability, for that is what love involves.  This freedom cannot be defended.  

It is a gift.

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