Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Freedom to Serve One Another

I pulled in the driveway at home just after five o’clock. In my car was a box of recyclables I had collected at work so I walked over to the large collection bin beside the house and dropped them in. I walked back across the yard to the mailbox where I pulled out an advertisement, the bank statement, and a vehicle recall notice. I made a mental note that the latter two things needed to be added to my to-do list.

I walked back by my car and reached in for my purse before I made it up to our front door. Once I was inside the house, I dropped my purse on the ironing board and walked straight to the closet where I picked up the laundry basket and lugged it to the washing machine. I turned the knob to start the water flowing, added the detergent and the dark colored clothes.

My washing machine is old and a little temperamental, but faithful. It requires a little extra pampering to get the tub filled with cold water, which means sometimes I have to manually fill pitchers up in the kitchen sink and then walk back over to the washer and pour them in to get it going. This was one of those days.

Once it started agitating, I went back to the kitchen, pulled a pot out of the cabinet, filled it with water and put it on the stove to boil. Noodles were on the menu for dinner. I rummaged in the cabinet for a dish for the broccoli and a bowl for the sauce. From the kitchen I could see outside to the back yard where a peace lily’s thirteen blooms were all wilted and hanging over from the heat. I already had a pitcher out from filling up the washing machine so I filled it up again and added some plant food. I went outside and poured the entire gallon on the lily. It didn’t take long for it to perk up.

That made me think that perhaps the plants in the front yard might need a little attention too. I filled the pitcher up with water again and added more plant food. I emptied it into two ferns on the front porch. The flowerbed there was looking a little sad too, so I got the hose and starting spraying the Mexican heather and the spider grass.

I stood there staring at the water spray from the hose nozzle. The graceful trickling sound of the water stream mesmerized me for a moment and I thought to myself, after working all day then coming home to all this, I just wanted to be free. Free from cooking, laundry, recycling, plant care, bank statements, and vehicle maintenance. I wanted to sit down and do nothing. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I want anyone else in my household to take up those chores either. I didn’t want any one of us to have to worry about those things any more. I wanted freedom from all the responsibility for all of us.

Do you know what would happen if I exercised my own freedom and emancipated myself from the office, the washing machine, or the kitchen? The people at work would have to spend weeks trying to figure out my computer filing system. My husband would have to read the instructions on the noodle box. He would also likely have a drawer full of pink underwear because he would not be able to figure out my temperamental washer. In other words, they would lose some of their freedoms.

The recent newsmakers like same-sex marriage, the Confederate flag, Planned Parenthood and abortion have had us all thinking and talking about freedom lately. It’s caused us to consider the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and how we believe it grants us the freedom of press, speech, assembly, religion, due process and bearing arms.

I think the Bill of Rights and the Constitution make a lot of sense. I think it makes even more sense when you look at it in light of scripture, which I believe the framers of those documents did. Paul wrote in Galatians 5, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

If I choose and demand liberty for my own sake only without accepting any responsibility for the outcome and how it affects everyone else around me, then we all lose true freedom. True liberty comes with real responsibility. That’s what serving one another is. That’s what freedom is.

Now, please excuse me. The dryer buzzed so I need to take the liberty to go fold some clothes.

The was originally posted July 26, 2015 on The Press and Standard website: www.colletontoday.com