Galatians 4:12-20: Freedom and stinkbugs

It’s hard to slow down and smell the roses, much less look at the stinkbug.  It takes work to enter someone else’s world.

When I was home with two children and no car, a quick trip to the store meant loading them into the little red wagon and heading out into the Portland drizzle.  The corner store was three and a half blocks away.  A brief jaunt for a young mom in running shoes, but a slow ramble for two curious children in yellow raincoats.

“Come on kids!  We need to grab milk and bread before nap time.”  The wagon tipped as Rachel leaned over the edge, craning her head a stern.  “What are you doing?  We almost lost your little brother!”  “Mom, slow down.  There’s a bug back there on its back.  It’s feet were wiggling…”

I check my watch, sigh, and turn around.  The kids tumble out of the wagon and hunch down, heads together.  “Why’d he fall over?  Poor little guy.” “Here’s a stick.  Let’s flip him back.” “He’s just sittin” there.  Maybe we should take him home.”  “Yeah, what do ya think he eats?” “What should we call him?”  “I think, Annabella or Chuck.  Mom, can you tell if he’s a boy or a girl?”

I examined the stinkbug.  Can you believe the things they notice?  Kind of like the Lord who’s not too busy to stoop down and see us. “I’m not sure.  Maybe we can look it up when we get home.”

Just then the bug recovered and skittered away.  “Don’t worry.  He’ll be OK.  God sees him.”  As we trudged on Rachel wondered, “Mom, what else does God see?”

Entering their world.  Inviting them into yours. When Paul said, “…become as I am, for I also have become as you are,” Galatians 4:12, he showed us something about gospel freedom.  The gospel doesn’t just change us personally, it changes us relationally.  It frees us to minister to those around us in two ways.

First we are free to adapt to their circumstances.  I can enter their world, not just stopping to look at bugs with my four year old, but stopping to read a liberal editorial just because my friend asks me to.  Christ sets me free to love her by entering her world, just like he entered ours.  He frees me from fear, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, and plain old indifference.  I can adapt to them, because my confidence for salvation is in the cross of Christ, not in my Christian culture.

Second, I can be transparent with my life.  I can invite them to become like me as I follow Jesus.  That involves letting them into the crossroads of my Christian life, where the choice to follow Christ is made on a daily basis.  I can talk about my anxieties, my temptations, my perplexities.  Transparency allows them to see how Jesus saves me in the daily twists and turns of life.

Freedom to serve. The gospel frees me to serve the people around me, whether believers or unbelievers.  Even my own kids.

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