Live Freely

Live Freely

This morning reading in Galatians I found this.  To me it feels like a bridge from where I sometimes find myself, to the kind of life I would like to live.

I would love to live a live marked by compassion for others, my energies marshaled wisely, and a willingness to stick with things.  Serenity? Exuberance for life?  Yes, please!

Instead I can see myself driven by all-consuming-never-satisfied wants, and joyless grabs for happiness, because it is so much easier to put myself first, and to try to satisfy my own selfish desires.  I don't think I'm alone in this struggle.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addiction; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard— things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
— Galatians 5:16-26 The Message

I keep coming back to the question, "Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the compulsions of a law-dominated existence?"  

I think the answer is, because it seems hard.  It is so foreign, not to just work to meet my needs and those of the people closest to me.  To be honest, I'm not sure I fully understand what it looks like to live a life led by the Spirit.  It seems so nebulous to have an invisible guide lead me.  It takes such faith.  Even more, it takes time.  In an orchard the trees can't immediately make themselves bear fruit.  

And so I'm choosing to be led by the Spirit. I am choosing to figure out what this looks like, and to work at it.  I am choosing someone other than myself.  I'm choosing to play the long game, and to let work happen in secret so that some day like an orchard I can be full of fruit.

Instead of having my own motives guide me, I will choose to have the Spirit provide my motivation.  It takes choosing, not just once but time and time again because it is so easy to go back to what I want and when I want it.

I don't just want it to be a nice idea, or a comforting thought but I want it to be the guiding principle in my life. It won't be easy to stop mindless responding to what I have long thought are necessities.  It will take practice to not put my own desires first too.

Oh but for freedom, I will. For true community, for deep compassion, for the end of striving.  It is worth the investment.  

Let the comparisons end.  It never satisfied my desire to be valued anyway. 

I have far more interesting things to do with my life.  

I'm ready to come into my own as an original.