On Sunday, Pastor Chris spoke to us about freedom referencing passages from Joshua and Judges.
He reminded us that there are two kinds of freedom:
The first is a delusion. We sometimes like to imagine we are independent, autonomous beings—little gods—who can do what we want, when we want, how we want, with whom we want. We sometimes want to get out from under the thumb of God, and create our own little kingdom with ourselves on the throne. The only problem is: It doesn’t work. Those “freedoms” we indulge in end up enslaving us. We become bound by addictions, greed, lust, self righteousness, or whatever.
The second kind of freedom is counter intuitive. This is true freedom, but on the surface it looks like slavery. This is submitting to the rule of God in our lives. It can be easy sometimes to forget that God designed us. He knows what will make us ultimately happy. He loves us enough not to indulge us (and, in so doing, leave us stuck in our own immaturity), but rather to care for us and help us grow.
So how do we go from dreading this true freedom to celebrating it?
In my own life, I’ve found the key is to be honest with God.
Long ago I came to the understanding that my life belonged to God; it does not belong to me. I made the decision to put God in charge; and I determined that nothing would be off limits for Him.
I wish I could say I was always happy with that decision, but at times I wasn’t. At times I wanted one thing and God wanted something very different for me. As a result, sometimes I felt scared, sometimes depressed, sometimes angry.
At first I hid those feelings from God. I figured God didn’t care how I felt; He just wanted me to straighten up and tow the line. Obedience. I didn’t like it, but I had to obey. I didn’t have a choice.
I think this had something to do with my generation and the environment we grew up with. Our parents were dead set against the “question authority” movement of the 1960s. Authority was absolute. You talk back to your parents, expect to be in a world of hurt in a big, big hurry.
So I learned to bury my feelings, and never be completely honest about what was happening inside. Instead, I told the leaders in my life what I thought they wanted to hear. I became a chameleon. I was so used to lying that I even lied to myself.
Over time, I discovered that this doesn’t work with God. He was more interested in me than He was in my obedience. I discovered that there’s a difference between “talking back” at God and being honest with God. I could share my real feelings.
Yes, I wanted to obey. But part of me didn’t. And that part of me needed God just as much—or even more—than the “good” Dwight.
When I started getting honest with God (and with myself), then God started sharing more and more of His heart with me. I began to discover how much He liked me and loved me and cared for me. I started to learn the reasons behind his requirements, and discovered that He had really good reasons for wanting me to do what He wanted me to do.
As time went on, I found myself less and less at odds with God, and more and more starting to want what He wants, love what He loves, hate what He hates. I didn’t need to think (so much) about obeying any more because it just became part of who I am.
So my encouragement to you is this: Be honest with God. Not in a defiant “talking back” to God kind of way, but in a humble “this is what’s going on inside me” kind of way. Ask Him for His thoughts, His perspective, and listen.
What you discover will, I think, completely change your life.