Friday, July 4, 2008

Nothing is Free so LET FREEDOM RING!

You were bought with a price therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

As we celebrate "Independence Day" I was struck with the thought that most countries on the planet have a day on which they gained their independence from someone else. Most of us can relate to being freed from something - like school at the end of May, or work when we go on vacation or holiday breaks, or God when we want to enjoy sin for a season, or sin when we turn to God in repentance.

I like the thought of independence. It has a nice ring to it - like a liberty bell might have. Seems there may be some cracks in the concept however. You see, we were made to be codependent creatures not independent islands.

Take the movie "Cast Away" for example. Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks) is stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. Over the course of four years he adapts pretty well, but it takes another "face" to keep him sane - "Wilson." The guy was in such need of another that he invented one out of a bloody volleyball.

Interestingly (and symbolically) this friend was forged out of a painful experience. Not only this, Chuck found a way to leave his impression and fingerprints on Wilson's character. Chuck is such a great friend, he is abe to carry the conversation for the both of them. Some relationships are like this, very one-sided.

Do you have any friends that you feel like do all the talking (besides me)? Do you have friends that just sit on "mute" as you pour your heart out? These may not be friends at all, but instead may be an illusion of our own making to comfort us in our aloneness. Ouch.

Our codependent nature seeks to be nurtured and loved. Oh sure we have our moments where we think it's us against the world and we "don't need anybody" to make us happy, yadda, yadda, yadda. We're just lying to ourselves if we really think that to be true. Every "loner" I've ever met was unhappy and bitter.

We were created for relationship - first with God then with each other. In our relationship with God, we discover things about each other, and in our relationships with others we discover things about God. In our relationships with both we discover things about ourselves.

When I was a kid, I had a friend named Tommy that lived directly across the street. Check that, he probaby was not a true friend, just a neighbor, and my main antagonist. He found great pleasure in my disappointment. I would have done nearly anything for Tommy's approval. He was smart - a straight "A" student - and a head taller than me.

I felt as though he always looked down on me figuratively and literally. We played together often, but over the years I have come to understand these times as his own personal little clinic of torment.

He would suggest a sleepover that would never materialize. I would ask him to come out and play only to be turned down, then I would find him ten minutes later in his front yard playing. When he woud see me, inside he would go.

And so it went on like this for years, some days we would play, and some days he would manipuate. He was definitely the power broker in that relationship. One day he began to brag on his mom and her college education. My mom got her G.E.D. after leaving school in the tenth grade when her mom died.

Before I knew it I had punched him in the face. Much to my chagrin he just stood there with this pretty pissed look about him. Then he punched me in the stomach and I fell in a heap of regret, rejection, and sobbing frustration.

My only recourse was to run inside and tell on him. I remember there was a phone call and some discussion, but most of the "resolution" is a blur. The irony in all of this is that the first time I recall "making a decision for Christ" was when I raised my hand in a neighborhood bible school that Tommy's mom would conduct every summer.

They were Wesleyn Evangelical Methodists and we were Nazarenes. They were "once-saved-always-saved" and we were not. This may explain Tommy's mischieviousness. "Ahhh I'm in. I think I'll torment Timmy now."

This may also explain why I raised my hand every summer to get saved all over again, and again, and again. I just couldn't figure out why Tommy wasn't raising his, because if anyone needed it, it was darn sure that little devil.

I once witnessed he and Buzzy W. slice open a lizard on Buzzy's front porch. They discected it while it was alive, like it was a science experiment or a lobster being readied for the grill. I remember leaving in the middle of it nauseated and crying all the way home and thinking "those Methodists are messed up folk." They probably just needed to be saved again.

Those were simpler times with toasters and without microwaves. We had LP's not CD's. Turntables not IPODS. No one had ever heard of a cellphone, email, texting, or MYSPACE. Today's generation has shut the rest of the world out and have become the antithesis of selfless. (I'm speaking in generalities here.)

How self-centered is the concept of "MYSPACE"? Put down the rocks - I've got one too. I don't go there much, but you get the point right? E UNUM PLURIBUS! We've become individuals hell-bent on promoting our individuality.

We don't buy CD's anymore, but choose our favorites and download our playlists. Our kids control the message that goes into their heads and shut the rest of the world out via their IPOD. Society has achieved this sort of narcissistic self-sufficiency and we've put out the DND (Do Not Disturb) sign on the doorknob of our lives.

We are trying to decide what the terms and conditions of what we want from relationships all the while people need what God has deposited in you. We've put up the crime scene tape and arrest anyone that tries to cross it.

The crime scene is our heart and the crime is our indifference to others. The terms are the return on investment and the conditions include my ego. We don't reach out unless there's something in it for us.

We had ten commandments that went to two and somehow we've managed to erase those as well. The Body of Christ seems dismembered like a lizard under the scapal of a deranged surgeon. The spotless bride we are not.

Our spiritual and social masturbatory motives are taking a toll as we decide who is "in" and who is not. We limit our circles to convenience and cost. We fail to understand that the smallest investment can pay the largest dividends, and the failure to do so can literally crush another.

Beloved, being part of the body of Christ will cost you something besides a few bucks in an offering bucket and a trip to the local church for a couple of hours a week. It will cost you everything because He paid it all and bought it all with His blood.

Now let's get off our duffs and call someone we know who is hurting and needs to see Jesus with skin on Him. If you ain't there yet then get off your duff and get on your knees. If you have a "Do Not Enter" sign up, take it down. Your "freedom" to check out is nothing more than bondage to yourself. You have the key so unlock those chains an Let Freedom ring.

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13


Anonymous said...

Hret stuff Tim. But be careful, you're hitting close to home. :)

Anonymous said...

Hret?? (I need spell-check). That should read "Great stuff, Tim."

Joshua W. said...

Great post, Tim. I remember as a kid being told about those "Catholics" and by other fellow Baptists talking about those "Lutherens" and how they wouldn't be saved. I also remember thinking, "but what would I tell you if I see Christ in them?"

*sigh* Dare I say, that while you can blame the Devil all you want for the division in the church, I therefore submit that we allow it. Encourage it. Grow it. Further it. And like it.

Again, another great post. When are you going to write a book for me to read? :)

Joshua W.