Thursday, October 18, 2007

Freedom is scary, Part I

I just returned from my 4th year to go to Ekaterinburg, Russia, with a team from Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, TX, and once again God showed me something from the Word that never really resonated before, from one of our daily NBC team devotionals.

I was asked to prepare one for our team for the first weekday after wife and I arrived, and in my typical fashion, I didn't prepare for anything for as long as I could avoid it. So that morning I finally started thinking what to speak on, and Galatians Chapter 5 verse 1 popped into my head:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not
let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

As I got to thinking on this verse, I recalled the scene at the end of the film, Schindler's List, where the Jewish prisoners at Brinnlitz were left alone. The German guards had all fled the day before, with Oskar and Emilie Schindler leaving that night. The next morning, all the freed prisoners were still sitting on the ground when a Russia soldier rode up on horseback, and told them that they had been liberated. Yet everyone stayed seated, and one older man asked " What do we do now?" This has always seemed rather odd to me, since it would stand to reason that the prisoners would have immediately taken advantage of their freedom from inhuman and unthinkable bondage, and ran from the Brinnlitz camp as fast as their feet would carry them, and yet they stayed.
From my university days, I seem to remember similar anecdotes of slaves in the American South that stayed around the plantations, even after the Union army had arrived and taken control of that area of the Confederacy, and word was delivered of the Emancipation.

This idea, that people would prefer to stay and live as if they were still in bondage, even if they have been liberated, seems strange to me. And even more strange, it seems that even when a people have tasted freedom, there is a strong tendency to trade that freedom for slavery once more, in certain circumstances. But the more I thought about it, not only that day, but since last week, it seems more of a default position for human behavior.

On a political level, more and more it seems that many, if not the majority of my countrymen seem fine with exchanging liberty for a sense of security. Or on a financial level, many would rather live as slaves to the credit card companies, or to the mortgage banker, or to their jobs, in order to have a newer shinier car, or another 1000 square feet in the house, or what ever they desire that may not be within their means.

However it is in the spiritual arena that I believe this willingness to trade freedom for bondage is most often seen.

From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was proclaiming liberty to the captives. From the way He treated those that the society of the day deemed less than worthy, and from His sermons and parables, one of the subtexts of everything He said and done was a message of liberation: not only from the wages of our sin against a holy God, but freedom to love others as we are loved. Freedom to see how God values others, and ourselves, and from the knowledge of that, freedom to live accordingly.

Yet it seems that often people would ask Him " what must I do?" to earn this freedom of eternal life. In other words, what rituals or rules must we follow...To what regimen shall we submit to?
I feel that is a response from our natural self, for we often fail to truly understand what it means to live freely. Or if we do understand, we are afraid of the ramifications of a life of freedom.

I will have more on this in a day or two..


Princess Jami said...

I think I've noticed something similar to this in my swing dancing life, just recently. I'm in a beginning dance troupe, now, and I've started to see that I take pride in my following skillz. You see, following is an art in partner dances, and takes some training to learn. I'm well-trained in following. Generally, I don't really think about where I'm going or what I'm doing too much anymore...just relying on what my leads "tell" me to do. I'm comfortable there. Until this past week, I didn't consider that I could help guide the lead with my dancing, too, until my teachers brought it up. So, of course, I had to try helping out my leads, since my teachers said so. ;-) I seems we humans have a tendency to like not to have to think for ourselves but be happy little followers. Joman and I call people sheep. :-) Dunno. Maybe it's not the same at all. :-)

Princess Jami said...

Oh, I remember another point I was trying to make, that we people seem to focus so much on following properly and honing our technique in being part of the herd that we don't pay attention to anything else. Plus, we want to be noticed for how well we adhere to the guidelines.

This doesn't apply to tortured humans, of course. :-\