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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

freedom

i've been dwelling a lot lately on the topic of freedom. i mean why is it that we are so concerned with freedom in america? other countries don't seem too worried about it (maybe that's because they don't have the freedom we do). but the question i have is this, "what is freedom?" do we define freedom simply as the ability to do whatever we want whenever we want? if that is your definition, then maybe most of us who aren't in the clink do have freedom.

what i'd like to suggest to you today, however, is that true freedom is the ability to not do whatever you want. let me say that again. true freedom is the ability to not do whatever you want. you see, we've been programmed to think that freedom means we live for ourselves doing whatever we want to make our own lives better. look out for #1 because i'm all that matters. but we've been so programmed that we are actually bound to selfishness and self-centeredness. do you see it? take a long hard look at yourself. isn't it true that all of the world's problems come back to some form of self-centeredness?

true freedom is the ability to put self aside and live for others. to not do the things that i am rightfully able to do so that someone else is served or loved by me. the problem is that not a single person has this ability in and of themselves. some of you may be thinking, "oh i could put aside my desires in order to serve someone else." maybe you can, but that's not the point. because deep down, i don't think you could put aside your desires for someone else without wondering what you are going to get out of it. take my relationship with my wife. do i do the dishes for her so that she will cook me breakfast and give me sex? or do i do the dishes for her simply because i cherish and love her and want to bless her. the truth of the matter is that we live by the golden rule (which jesus never said by the way). we do unto others so that they will do unto us.

jesus is calling us to a much more radical lifestyle. he is calling us to do unto others whether they do unto us or not. and that radical lifestyle is only possible when the gospel infiltrates our lives and kills our desires on the cross with christ. thus is true freedom my friends, cast off those shackles and die to the bondage of self.

for you were called to freedom, brothers. only do nut 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. -Galatians 5.13-15

13 Comments:

At 9:57 PM, March 30, 2005, Blogger Molly said...

I'm sure feeling enslaved to my own desires these days. Thanks for the reminder, Ryan, that I need a loving Savior to enter into the mess of my life and free from myself!

 
At 11:38 PM, March 30, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

I have to admit that I am selfless for completely selfish reasons, and I actually don’t see anything wrong with that. See, if I wasn’t honest about my selfish reasons, then that would be wrong, but I think that in life, the most selfish thing that you can do is to think of others first, because they will give back to you tenfold.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk in your language. Doesn’t God give us please and rewards, on this earth for the good things that we do? Meaning, isn’t that good feeling that we get really a gift from God saying, hey, good job, you are doing good, here is your reward?

Now, if we always look for what “is ours”, then that is bad, but realizing good consequences for good actions doesn’t seem so bad. You ever do the dishes not for dinner or sex, but realizing that you will get it because of it? Any wife ever give sex so that their husband will do the dishes? I call that a partnership, with mutual benefits.

 
At 1:23 PM, March 31, 2005, Blogger rs said...

Charles

As usual you have articulated perfectly the bondage that I was referencing in my post. One could say that the difference between you and me on this issue is that I see it as wrong whereas you don't. Let me be clear...I use people. I think about people completely selfishly.

But let me also be clear that this way of living is bondage because we can't help but live that way. What I am saying is that you are exactly right to see the world the way you do because there is no other way for you to see it.

That's the power of the gospel. It can literally change our pupils to enable us to see life differently. When the gospel takes hold of us we can live freely. Admittedly, I don't live that way all the time, but as I believe and repent of my selfishness it gets less and less and my moments of selfless love and service gets more and more.

I challenge you the next time you are disappointed by someone to think hard about the way you are feeling. That is the fruit of the bondage I am talking about. Imagine being free to love someone through action without receiving something from them and not feeling disapointment. That is freedom.

 
At 1:23 PM, March 31, 2005, Blogger rs said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:53 PM, March 31, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Charles, I'm curious (and I'm not being rhetorical here) - do you relate to your parents this way? Do they relate to you like this?

I ask because I think most families DON'T typically operate like this (or at least, most of us recognize that families _shouldn't_ relate this way) - if your mother gets Alzheimers and no longer even remembers who you are, you will probably not stop loving her and caring for her - even though she can no longer give anything back to you.

On the contrary, the "mutual benefits" approach you describe reminds me a lot of the way most businesses operate - an employee is a commodity, they give you a wage, you give them your work, but as soon as you are no longer needed, bang...they move on. And most people don't like that (because its not really relationship)

Maybe this is why Scripture talks about relationship w/ God using family language.

Gal 4:4-7: "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."

And this passage brings out the heart of what Ryan was talking about - the opposite of "son" is "slave"...and you can't experience that when "self" is at the center (cf. Eph 4:22-24).

 
At 2:09 PM, March 31, 2005, Blogger We Three Spences said...

Really good thought.
It caused me to think about something other than myself.
I was just surfing around and found you...I shall return.
Jan

 
At 8:41 PM, March 31, 2005, Blogger rs said...

Jan,

Thanks for stopping in. We'd love to hear more feedback about our posts. We're trying to refine our thinking and learn how to say things better so please share either through comments or email and help us out. We look forward to having you as part of our blog community.

 
At 10:49 PM, March 31, 2005, Blogger We Three Spences said...

Thanks...I shall.
Jan

 
At 2:17 AM, April 01, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

Ryan:
Imagine being free to love someone through action without receiving something from them and not feeling disapointment. That is freedom.

My point was that I don’t think that God let’s this happen. I think that if we truly love someone through action, then they will either give us something back, or we will truly see their hearts. Meaning, yes, we shouldn’t “expect” anything back, but if we don’t get it, then, well, it says a lot about the person. Doesn’t it?

Christian: I think that when it comes to my mother, or anyone I care about, you included, then the mutual benefits thing goes out the window. But the mutual benefits do not occur in the first place until you dedicate your time to making this person happy, aside from what you get out of it. Does that make sense? Meaning that there are no mutual benefits until you think this way. And yeah, it would suck to have my Mom not know who I am, but I think that it would suck more to not be there for her when that happened.

 
At 8:58 AM, April 01, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

cdog: Thanks for the clarification - I think I was misunderstanding your original statement.

When you said, "I am selfless for completely selfish reasons, and I actually don’t see anything wrong with that" I was assuming you were talking about all relationships, and I was just pointing out that your most meaningful relationship probably AREN'T based on based on what you get out of the deal. And your answer indicates that's the case.

So the real question then is whether its right for us to be in ANY relationships for selfish reasons - you may think yes; I'd probably say no...this sounds like good topic for conversation tonight over a cigar ;-)

 
At 9:40 AM, April 01, 2005, Blogger rs said...

Charles,

Let me give you one illustration though...Mother Teresa. She bandaged and looked after lepers. She did so (at least from what I can see, I don't know her inner motivations) self-lessly. She received nothing from the lepers. I guess I don't agree with you that "God doesn't allow this to happen." I think it happens all the time because people are self-centered and sinful.

You know as well as I do that there are a lot of people out there...people who say they are Christians even...who flat out use people. They are only "takers" and not "givers."

How do you respond to those people?

 
At 10:41 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

RS: Sorry for the late response. I hope you have RSS. Are you really sure that she got nothing out of it? She was Mother freaking Teresa. She was on every freaking news show and Magazine there is. She is world famous for "being selfless". I don't know her motivations for what she did, but I'm sure it felt good to help Lepers, and I know that she is world famous for doing it. So yeah, she got a lot out of it.

 
At 11:14 AM, April 03, 2005, Blogger rs said...

That is a good point. Like I said, I don't know her inner motivations, but she sure didn't seem to profit from what should did in a worldly way...other than being world famous. I would be willing to bet that she was doing it as an act of trying to commend herself to God.

I guess the whole point I'm trying to make is that God asks us to be selfless in all our dealings with people, but we can't do it and the irony is that if we could become selfless, we would be truly free. We think we are free in selfishness, but we really aren't.

The bottom line though, is this...we cannot help but be selfish. Unless we believe the gospel! If we believe the gospel, Christ changes our perception of the world and we can begin to live freely...for others and not ourselves. I realize this is a profound mystery. Read Galatians sometime. It is pretty revolutionary thinking.

 

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