For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sister; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
They say that pastors only have one sermon they give throughout their life. Sure, we write something new every week, we examine all the different aspects of scripture using tradition, reason, and experience, and we are constantly collecting new stories to tell. But at the heart of it all, most of us have just one sermon that we preach over and over in different ways.
For me, my one sermon is undergirded by this passage from Galatians, as well as all the other verses that repeat the same message. "For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" I could preach a hundred sermons teasing out different meanings from this phrase, looking at all the ways it applies to our lives, pointing out all the contemporary examples of how we do and don't live this out.
In the end, however, it is all this simple - we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. And yet, it is also this complicated - we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. How do we show love to our neighbor? What does it mean to really love ourselves? The questions go on and on. Our lives, hopefully, are spent exploring the answers.
We love our neighbor the best we can. We learn to love ourselves the best we can. This love is summed up in the love that Jesus has shown for us - unconditional, relentless, full of grace. We don't have the power to love like that on our own, but through Christ, we can hope to get there someday. And in Christ, we have the freedom to try.
God who gives us the freedom to love, help us to share that love freely. Help us to see that every person created in your image is our neighbor, help us to love ourselves as you love us, and help us to love our neighbor in the same way. Yes, even that neighbor. Amen.