Summary: Connecting, part 2 of 2. Dave looks at Galatians 5:13-15 and examines the link between freedom and service, encouraging all to get involved in serving at Wildwind and in the community.
The Freedom-Grower: Connecting Through Service
Wildwind Community Church
George Bernard Shaw said:
"This is the true joy in life - being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."
There’s nothing worse in this life than to be doomed to focus only on yourself. The more you do that, the more miserable you will be. The more you do that, the more you will become a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. Do you know what most people need more than anything else? They need to stop moaning about their problems and go out and help somebody else. That doesn’t sound very counselor-like does it? Counselors are supposed to say, “What you need is therapy. What you need is unconditional love. What you need is some me-time.”
Sometimes all those things are true. But in my work with people, and in talking to many other pastors and counselors, I have learned that what people need most of the time, for most of their problems, is a good kick in the pants. Now how un-therapeutic is that? Not as much as you might think. Sometimes we need to go over and over our problems. Sometimes we need to talk through our unhappiness. Sometimes we need to whine for a little while. But a time comes when we need to be finished whining. Isn’t that in the Bible? “A time to be born and a time to die. A time to whine, and a time to be done with whining. A time to complain about our lives, and a time to get a life.”
Honestly, after the whining is done, after the pastor or counselor has had his/her words and we have had ours and the talking is ended, it’s time to stop talking and start doing. Time to make something happen. Time to get a life. Our touchy-feely, therapeutic, blame it on the way you were raised society isn’t doing us any favors. We pursue peace and happiness, because we think they are something we can pursue. We don’t realize that peace and happiness, rather than being something we can pursue, are instead by-products that come when we get a life – when we step out of ourselves and embrace life that goes beyond our own. Let’s look at a few texts that will move us in this direction, because we have the weight of American society moving in the other direction. We live in a world that tells us to focus more on us – that the reason we’re unhappy is because we don’t pay enough attention to ourselves. Of course we often don’t notice that in telling us this, they then conveniently offer the solution for us, which just happens to be the use of one of their products, available until the end of this sermon for just $19.95.
No, my friends. Shaw had it right. Serving is the door to life. Serving is the door to real life. It’s the door to joy and lightheartedness. It’s the door to contentment and peace. It’s the door to abundant life. Let’s put together why this is true by looking at a few texts today.
John 10:10 (NKJV)
10 " …I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
More abundant life is what Jesus came to bring. In other words, life, but more life. Life on a level we could never imagine is possible.
John 8:36 (NIV)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
A life of freedom sounds like an abundant life to me. A life where we are free is certainly better than a life where we are enslaved, isn’t it? When we are free we get to experience more life, more vitality, more of all that life has to offer. Slavery means what? It means a life of being condemned to one environment. A life that serves only one interest. A life that relentlessly pours itself out upon interests that are not its own, and reaps the consequences in despair, in humiliation, in sorrow, in emptiness, in shame. Jesus here, essentially tells us that he will set us free to pursue our own best interests. “If the Sons sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Not that kind of freedom that leads to abuse of freedom, the kind of freedom that leads to increasing self-indulgence, which in turn destroys the freedom that gave birth to it. The consequence shows that what looked like freedom was never freedom in the first place. Jesus brings a kind of freedom that never doubles back and devours itself – a kind of freedom that leads to an abundance of life, an increase of life.