Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Land of the Free?

I live in America, the land of the free, right?  Right…

It’s election day here, everyone is visiting their local government office, showing ID’s, filling out ballots and proudly posting selfies of them wearing their “I voted” stickers.  So far, I've decided not to participate in these festivities.  Though, I am admittedly cynical when it comes to matters of a political nature, that’s not the reason I've chosen not to vote.  I've chosen not to participate simply because I don’t support anyone who is running, and I’m just not one to put my name (or bubbled in dot) behind someone or thing that I don’t believe in. 

Today, as my coworkers began trickling in to work, shaking off the rain remnants from the storm outside, my eye caught the red, white, and blue shine of the stickers stuck to their chests.  It wasn't long before the office buzzed with voting conversation.  One of my coworkers excitedly asked me, “Did you vote today?!”  I replied matter-of-factly, “Nope.” What she said next caught me off guard. “Well why don’t you just go live in Iraq then if you’re not going to vote!”

Wow.  I cocked my head and walked away as I chose to distract myself with the pile of paperwork on my desk rather than respond.  I've been thinking about that comment the rest of the day though. 

Correct me if I’m wrong but… isn't what this country stands for freedom?  And am I not exercising my freedom by my choice not to vote?  Isn't it my right as an American to not have to stand behind anything I don’t want to? 

We do this funny thing as humans; we think that if we have the freedom to do something that means we have to do it.  We have the freedom to vote so we have to vote or else we’re abusing the privilege, after all not everyone in the world has that opportunity.   We see a sign at a store, “Buy One Get One Free” and we think, “Well I don’t really need two pairs of shoes but it’s free so I have to take it.” 

This human way of thinking about freedom leaks over into our faith.  I think that’s why religious people get their panties in wad when you start telling people that Christ offers them freedom.  If you want to make them even madder, you believe like I do; that because of Christ’s sacrifice which covered ALL sins, we have the freedom even to sin without fear of punishment as the payment for those sins has already been made. 

Woah now, we can’t tell people that.  If we tell people that they are just going to go out sin all over the place (because they aren't sinning already?)  Why do we think that?  Oh, right, because if we have freedom to do something that means we have to do it?  That’s what Satan wants us to think.  How powerless that kind of “freedom” is.

The liberty that Christ offers us is so much bigger than our humanity’s definition of freedom.  Freedom in Christ means I never again have to meet expectations, worry about demands, fear punishment, or quiet my passions.  Sin tries to put us back in bondage, shackle us to shame, weigh us down with worry, but it has no power here. Sin’s price has already been paid, we have already been freed from its accusations and guilt.

See, when God says we have freedom He doesn't mean IF we read our Bible enough or IF we hang out with the right people or IF we go to the right church or IF we look the right way.  When God says we have freedom He means we have complete, untameable freedom.  Freedom to run to Him or from Him.  Freedom from sin and freedom to sin.  Freedom to have straight collars or grungy jeans.  Freedom that causes life to sometimes be chaotic and unpredictable and messy but also beautifully, intimately authentic.  After all, would His love really be love if we had to clean ourselves up before we could experience it? 

I often wonder why God offers us such freedom, freedom that I have abused so many times.  I’ve asked just as many times why He keeps trusting me with such liberty.  The thing is… even when I don’t have faith in God; God has faith in me.  He sees me as I truly am, covered in the blood of His favored Son, fused in spirit with His holiness.  How could he shackle something He finds so beautiful?  How can He not delight in my flights into freedom?

God works differently than we do.  Everything He gives, He gives without strings.  This world knows nothing of that kind of freedom, that kind of love.  We say we’re the land of the free but just try not paying your taxes and see how free this land really is.  I’m not trying to make a political stand or statement in way; I just want people to know what real freedom is, and I want them to experience in the shadows of their hearts where Satan has tried to shackle them. 

I leave you with this blessing:

May you find freedom from what the world calls freedom.  May you come to realize that a much more powerful liberty has been offered to you.  One that not only frees you from your past and your struggles and your shortcomings, but that also frees you to be the wonderfully unique creature that God sees you as.  And may you wear that freedom with just as much pride as you do the red, white, and blue colored sticker on your chest. 

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
-1 Corinthians 3:17 (NET)