Monday, June 28, 2010
Politics, Religion and the Devil
There I stood, old enough to vote, drive a car that could kill someone, smoke cigarettes, gamble, own a gun, fight a war, run for state office, travel the world, get married, get drunk (age was once 18 in my state), change my name, get a pilots license, take out a loan, and be charged as an adult.
This week the faithful will be blogging about freedom in honor of Independence Day. The idea of freedom means something different to everyone - so enjoy the fireworks.
Like many teenagers, I was looking forward to not having anyone tell me what to do. I wanted FREEDOM! Living in a single-parent home, I had some baggage that made it hard for me to see that anyone cared. I only heard from the "authorities" when I did something wrong. I ran up a pretty good tab financially with two cars, and two motorcycles. I felt that I deserved it because I worked hard at two jobs.
At work there were always conflicts, some due to my bad attitude - okay, many. So, I would quit before I got fired - well, most of the time. I loved the printing trade; of course I thought I should be farther up the line than I was.
My personal life was a mess, as I was drinking very heavily. I had fair-weather friends who showed up when I had the booze. Otherwise no one called me.
Emotionally I was bankrupt. I wanted to die, I felt unloved, and happiness was a long way off - so far in fact that it seemed unachievable.
Finally I was so sick of everyone telling me what to do, I joined the Army. How stupid is it to give up all your freedom to do push-ups in 98 degree/98% humidity weather in Alabama in the middle of August?
And probably the saddest situation of all, spiritually I was an atheist, without any hope, for anything. HERE is how the story ends - or should I say begins.
I heard all kinds of views on freedom. The freedom to pursue happiness, the freedom to choose, freedom from government meddling in my life, and yes, the Bible quote, John 8:36 "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." I really did not understand freedom at all. Certainly, I was free to sin. Everything I chose seemed to turn into disaster. How was it in all my rebelling against authority, I did not see the spiritual principal of "truth." John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
The truth about freedom for me was simply this. John 8:34 "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
I confess, I had an amazing encounter with God and his love. HERE is what happened so long ago. It did, however; take many years for me to finally understand the concept of sin and it's ability to take away my freedom.
Not getting caught, is not real freedom. Striving to be better, and trying to be good was not freedom at all.
The real freedom for me, was in the simple revelation that in order for the perfectly "new man" to be free, David had to die. For years, I tried to fix David, do better, try harder, hang on, let go, repent, ask for forgiveness and strive some more. Until I had a deep encounter with my friend, Holy Spirit, I failed over and over and over. Because I lacked a deeper "totally abandon" relationship with Jesus, I was desensitized to sin and the Devil had me fooled into thinking that I wasn't as bad as someone else, and that because of religious things I did, God would "overlook" my shortcomings. What a lie!
Freedom is in dying to self - whatever that means - for me it is reckless abandon to a relationship with my God. It is in recognizing His mercy every day - after all, they are new every morning. It is in fighting th battle redemption vs. shame, and letting God win it. If we are in communion with God throughout the day - in prayer, in thought, in enjoyment of His presence, then we have a chance to enjoy real freedom. It won't matter who is president, who our boss is, what our spouse says, if we got a speeding ticket, or if the people in our lives measure up to some perceived standard we've set.
The fruit of real freedom is joy.
How about you, are you enjoying your freedom?