Freedom, Law, Grace, and Love

Photo by Axel Antas-Bergkvist

There are few words that I love more in the Scriptures than “freedom.” I think it is one of those words that really sets Christianity apart from other religions. Many people say that all religion is the same, it’s all about the golden rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do to you.” But that’s not really the case. The religions of the world are all very different from one another. Each has their beauty, but they are not simply the same.

Consider Galatians 5 for a moment,

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1–6, ESV)

Whenever I read this passage I am blown away. I am left in wide eyed wonder at the gospel. To follow Jesus is to be freed from seeking a self-justification.

First, Paul has jokes. He plays on the issue of circumcision by saying that a Gentile convert who get circumcised is, “Severed from Christ.” Paul’s being funny. He’s dropping one liners like Kevin Hart.

He’s also very serious though.

Those who seek to follow Christ cannot do so by following rules or traditions or law. To follow Christ all that matters all that counts is “faith working through love.”

When we seek to justify ourselves by the law we have “fallen away from grace.” We are no long free but we are submitting ourselves again to “slavery.” The way of Jesus is the way of freedom by grace through faith.

This is the beauty of the Christian life. Grace and faith re-shape us and free us to live lives of integrity and goodness. Elsewhere, Paul talks about the importance of the law and that its demands lead us to repentance. Yet, in that we are freed from the condemnation of the same law because in Christ there is grace. Justification comes as a result of Christ’s faithfulness to the law.

Grace, faith, and freedom must shape all of who we are. I think that David Fitch says it well in regards to the issue of abortion consider what he says and how it applies to living in freedom:

We cannot be redeemed by the law. We are redeemed by grace through faith. This reality must play out in our personal lives and also how we seek to engage the world around us.

The beauty of Christianity is the radical call to freedom because all that counts is “faith working through love.”

Freedom, Law, Grace, and Love was originally published in The Rev on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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