Our next installment in our Law & Gospel for Writers series will look at more of the vocation-y side of things. In Part II, we looked at binding. Today, Part IV will look into its opposite: freedom.
Law & Gospel for Writers, Part IV
Maybe you’ve considered our previous question, “Am I enough?” and turned it around. It may be that you feel like writing itself is enough. Writing may be where you feel your freedom most dearly, where you can be yourself or escape yourself, relax or get into what personally feels like your most productive and enjoyable work.
This kind of scenario, and our broader subject for today, brings up two kind of hefty issues. “What is the relationship between Law, Gospel, and freedom?” And, much like it, “What is the relationship between vocation and freedom?”
Dum, dum, dum, the drums roll. These can be theologically scandalous topics. Lines can be drawn and sides taken. Are you already being pulled one way or the other?
Let’s keep it calm here, folks. Law, Gospel, and freedom co-exist. They do not, however, coexist in such a way that we get to do whatever we happen to want at any given moment. The Law reveals God’s Will and sin. The Gospel gives mercy and God’s favor, revealing what God promises and does. The Good News is about JESUS, and you see can my post yesterday for more on that.
At any rate, it is God’s will for you to live the life He has given you. Yes, you can grow up, change jobs, move, etc. You can make decisions, choices, grab opportunities, etc. And, this is a lot of the stuff people mean when they talk about vocation. If you have a wife, God calls you to be a husband to her. Children? God calls you to be a parent to them. If you have an employer, then seek to act honorably!
There’s still freedom. By all means get dressed, and God does care what you wear—at least as much as how many hairs are on your head—but that doesn’t mean that Jesus has set His heart on a green shirt rather than a blue one.
Freedom extents into big matters, too. Who will you marry? What will you do? What options, major or minor, will you pursue or choose?
Feeling free can be different than being free. I feel free in a coffee shop away from my littles. Does that mean I am “free from them?” Not necessarily. Imagine the poor parents sipping coffees in hospital cafeterias, haunted by whatever may be afflicting their families.
Yet, sadly, these days there is a common temptation to speak directly in terms of “freedom from . . . ” regarding vocations. You move out: “I’m free from my parents!” No, you are not: God still explicitly commands you to honor them. “I’m free from my husband!” because you’re out with the girls! No! Yet we say it! We write it! We believe it and feel it!
God grants freedom, but it isn’t freedom from our lives, from vocation and the people He has placed in our lives for us to love and serve. Freedom isn’t opposed to the Law in that way.
God’s Law & Gospel stand. God prioritizes some things over others, like life over death, faith over sight, wisdom over foolishness, etc. Unfortunately, being sinful believers, our nature fluctuates between two sides of the freedom spectrum. We swing one way and bind ourselves under the Law, then the other way and go beyond the Gospel toward the libertine. We have been set free, but squander it.
Repenting about the pendulum swing we live as freed sinners . . . embodies one reason why we rejoice so deeply in the Gospel! Truly, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:11-14).
Vocation without God’s Word makes no sense: a call needs the Caller. And, our God has called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, and sanctified and kept us in the true faith, even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth. And, our first and eternal call is the call into faith (ie. often baptism in Lutheran shorthand), into receiving God’s gifts of mercy and reconciliation.
Faith frees us by the work of the Triune God. Law, Gospel, and freedom co-exist again. And, when we sin against the fourth commandment, there is still God calling out to us in His Word. When we sin against our children, our spouse, our neighbors, and our God, He still calls out fully aware of all that Christ has done for each one of us and for the sake of the entire world!
Christian freedom is freedom by the blood of Christ. You have been set free to live, love, serve, delight, worship, walk, run, eat, drink, be merry, be content, and wait upon the gracious and abundant goodness of the Lord. You have been set free to receive the culmination of all His promises, living lives of love and delight in His creation with choices and varying opportunities and blessings along the way. Thanks be to God!
Do you seek freedom in your writing or explore it? How does Christian freedom impact your writing? Your neighbor?