October 14, 2007

Freedom to or freedom from… Which one are you interested in?

I have been having a conversation lately with some friends about the area of giving. Tithing to be specific. They are seeking to understand why and how and what and who and where and ultimately to honor G-d with their behavior.

Admirable. Truly.

After a recent conversation I began to look at the reasons I tend to question things. There are times I question situations and expectations because I hope by the questioning I may find some little loophole that excuses bad behavior. Sometimes I need justification for a deed that seems difficult to understand but is a compulsion, a drive. A Must Do. Sometimes I might need to defend an action others may not understand. Sometimes I just question because it is such an inherent part of my nature to understand I cannot rest until I have at least a little clarity.

So what does this have to do with freedom?

Well, two of my friends, Knightshadow and Truth Seeker, have been examining the Torah, Absolutes and Grace. They are questioning and looking for answers. In an environment where many spiritual/evangelical discussions on faith have been reduced to Freedom From, I thought it might be interesting to talk about the Freedom To.

Before I became a believer I was compelled to lie, cheat, steal and indulge all manner of filth in my life. I swore like sailor and engaged in behavior most unbecoming a young lady. I was spiritually dead and rotting, I was morally deficient to the extreme and I would fixate on death, evil and power.

I was not a happy camper. To put it mildly.

Occasionally I would have moments of clarity. Self-discipline would kick in and I would pull myself out of the dark for a few days, a week or two. Sometimes even a couple of months. I would walk the walk and talk the talk. I fooled myself into thinking I had overcome my demons only to fall back harder and darker every time.

Until G-d. Then I truly had a choice. Not only was I given spiritual and mental freedom for the first time in my life, I was given the strength to walk away and continue to walk away. Not to walk into some sort of Judeo-Christian nirvana of self-indulgent, unaccountable psuedo-spirituality, I was free to join with the Body of Christ and to grow in the grace and knowledge of a Messiah who truly saved me from death. Imminent death, I might add.

One of the first things I was to be taught as a baby believer was how G-d had a plan for me. Not one which I got to make up as I went along and not one which was contingent upon modern interpretation and intangible feeling but a plan which was both massive and intimate, ancient and completely relevant to my life today. He offered me Truth. In every word in His Book He offered life and pathways of godliness. He gave parameters for interaction with friends, family and the ungodly. He offers a Counselor and a Hope. He gives me the freedom to choose, freedom to live and freedom to obey.

And when I fail, which I do regularly, He offers Grace without compromising the absolute Holiness of His nature. He doesn’t change. I repent, ask forgiveness and walk forward with the intent of serving Him all that much more honestly and effectively. I want to be closer. I will do anything to be closer to Him. According to His desires. Not mine. Obedience is better than sacrifice but both are required. As David the Psalmist said, “I would not offer You that which costs me nothing.”

Which is where the strength comes in. He offers His divine strength to take steps that reach out from the finite to the infinite.

I was free from the law of sin and death and free to walk forward in the paths of righteousness. I don’t want to walk within my own perception of what appears to be righteous or even to walk within the modern social or religious “acceptable behavior” paradigm. A shadow of righteousness which is really only a relativistic politically correct spirituality serving to make me feel good and with which we seek to prevent others from looking too closely at our personal lives.

Through His redemption and strength I am freed to walk within the loving and tender framework of a Creator who cannot have fellowship with darkness and patiently and fervently seeks to refine us. Why? To present Himself with a Bride. He shows throughout His Word how he wants a Bride both pure and spotless. Can you read Hosea without understanding He is looking for a Bride who adores and loves her Bridegroom beyond any personal ambition or selfish aspiration?

Are you looking for loopholes or opportunities to become refined? Are you questioning to find truth or testing to find license?

All things may be permissible… How hard are you looking for those things which are profitable?

Freedom to… Obey. Live. Hope. Dream. Follow. Seek. Sacrifice.

Not freedom from accountability, community and responsibility. What kind of Bride would we be if we brought such an attitude into a covenant relationship? What kind of relationship is built on absence of community, accountability and personal responsibility?

“He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

What are you doing with your freedom?