Nov 19, 2013

On Freedom (Part 1)

So Hunter was just introduced to the wonderful world of Tolkien.  Yes, my nerdy passion for all things Tolkien was just passed down to my son this month who I deemed worthy (old enough) to join this "club" with me.  For the record, Tone has not joined this fan club despite all my best efforts.  It's just not his "thing".  Whatever that means....because Tolkien's world just sucks you in to a fascinating world of elves, hobbits, orcs and wizards with a great adventure at every turn.  I'm not understanding how it wouldn't.  But the sad fact is, that for Tone, it doesn't. When we were first married, the movie series was just coming out and so for my birthday, Tone bought me the map of Middle Earth which I framed and proudly hung over my craft table (next to my map of Narnia of course). You are free to let the mocking commence.  I realize...I'm in deep. Even though Tone does not share this love of Tolkien, he loves me, and fed this obsession.  But now that Hunter is ready for Tolkien...oh boy! I've moved on in my recruiting to focus this on my child.  It's a Mama's right.

Hunter devoured it.

Several late nights in row, we finally finished up the series and my buddy and I are anxiously waiting for the next installment of "The Hobbit".

In the middle of introducing Hunter to Tolkien, I have also been reading through the New Testament.  I was reading Romans, Ephesians, and Galations the week we watched "The Lord of Rings" series.  We were also celebrating Veterans Day.  I think the trifecta of Tolkien, Romans, and Veteran's Day helped me think through some thoughts on freedom.  Oddly, in the chaos that sorts itself into impressions in my brain, they ended up making connections for me.

While we were watching the movies, it was the Orcs that left a great impression on the mind of Hunter.
Peter Jackson did a great job of giving viewers the heeby-jeebies and helping the viewer feel sufficiently scared and creeped out as you watched.  I was rather worried Hunter would maybe have some nightmares after watching.  Uh, he may or may not have slept in my bed after one particularly late night of Tolkien viewing. The orcs were shown as being slaves to Sauron and all decisions they made were under his complete control.   Hey, I've read the books a million times and watched the movies, but  every time I see them, I still get a fun little shiver of fear running down my spine. It's thrilling.

So upon thinking of Orcs....and their slavery to Sauron....

One of the problems people have said they have with Christianity is that they are afraid that they will feel like they are slaves to a system of rules and laws.  Unfortunately, this couldn't be more opposite.  I suppose some churches do try to trap people into this false brand of religion, but this is far from the truth of walking with Jesus.

I would like to point out that BEFORE Christ, we are actually the slaves.   We were slaves to sin.  We were like the Orcs on the inside.  Truly that bad.  Or worse. And while we lived, moved and breathed in apparent freedom throughout our lives, in actuality, there was no life in us.  We were masters to sin and helpless.  Oh sure, there are many "good" people who do wonderful things for the world...but whatever those deeds are, they were only a shadow of true good.  True good is doing something as praise and glory to God as His created beings.  True good points to God.  A good person who doesn't point to God with their goodness is pointing right back at themselves, and therefore, that's not true goodness.

The Orcs, I'm sure, could have done something good as they traipsed across the land, but the reality wouldn't have changed that they were still under the ownership of Sauron.  So likewise, people can do good things, but it doesn't change the fact that they are under the ownership of sin and selfishness. In fact, we are told we were dead.  Goodness that doesn't point to the source (God) counts for nothing.  It's a dead goodness.  Can I get super nerdy on you?  It's kinda like in the Tolkien books, the Orcs were created as a knock-off to make a mockery of the beautiful, free elves.  Whoa, yeah.  You know who knows her middle earth Tolkien history?  This girl.

Ephesians 2:1
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."

Can a dead person actually make ANY choices, good or bad?  Nope. That is not good news for "good" people.

But someone might argue:
So in Christianity, does one just trade one set of slavery for another set of rules and regulations?   No!

I will ask you to think of it this way:

Freedom means we are free to do the good we were created to do.  

We now have the freedom to not sin.  Only God has ever been completely free to not sin and do good.

Galations 5:1 "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be a subject again to a yoke of slavery."

So we are free!  We are free to choose from right and wrong. And when we choose right, it is the true right as God intended - it always points to Him. It is not about following a bunch of laws, being perfect, or earning our way there.
Read on:

Galations 5:4 "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace."

Ouch. So actually, if you are doing everything you can to prove your salvation by following the law, you really are not free at all.  You are stuck under a very heavy burden.  The law itself is slavery.

So now what?
We are free from the slavery of sin, but we are not stuck under a slavery of following laws.  Why are there laws in the Bible then?  To simply point out that we are slaves and not good.

Ephesians 2:4-10
"But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

What does this new life look like?  It's not slavery to sin.  It's a freedom from laws.  It's good. It's life.  But it's not works we do. How exactly does that fit together?  Glad you asked.  Part 2 is being posted tomorrow.  Otherwise, this post will get much much much too long.
Tomorrow, grab your coffee and read along with me. Polka dot jammies are optional.  But I super dig mine.
I also recommend some Chai tea steeped in milk and a comfy chair.
And socks.  Definitely socks.
But I always have cold feet.

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