I usually check out this blog on Monday…I try to get through the weekend and sit down on the couch in my office and bang out whatever is crossing through my twisted mind. Truthfully, mornings are not my "ideal" thinking times of the day that is usually reserved for late at night when I'm sorting through my thoughts and feelings about the day. For example…
The other night I was thinking about freedom. I don't want to necessarily wade into political waters…in fact, I'll stand back from them because "them waters" are filled with alligators but here is what was on my mind on Friday night. Freedom and the reality of personal freedom is inherently dangerous. Why? Because we as free agents in the world can choose to respond or not respond to boundaries and laws; we can choose or not choose to make something of our lives; we can choose or not choose to use our personal gifts and talents to do something that can be productive to and add something to the world. For a person of faith, in other words, for a person whose sole allegiance is to a King and a Kingdom (I'm talking here specifically about a Christocentric worldview and personal adherence that shapes lifestyle and praxis), we place our freedom under the direction and at the submission (freely, I might add) to someone we regard as LORD and Master (i.e. God, our ultimate allegiance and ultimate sense of reality from which we live and derive life's meaning). In response, as one of the letters in the bible says, as we place ourselves in submission to God, by His unmerited favor we are given back freedom. A guy by the name of Paul says, "for freedom's sake you've been set free (Galatians 5:1)." That is intensely profound. Freedom is a gift but one that comes in submission to the Lord of life.
Now, transfer some of that meaning onto our culture…as a government starts to "limit" freedom (most of the time motivated by its own sense that "it" knows better than we do how to make life work), it is one of many ways that it attempts to demonstrate who really is "god" in this world. You see, the battle for personal and corporate freedom is not a cultural battle as much as it is a battle for the soul and heart of every person. If you are forced to submit contrary to your free choice it is one of many ways where an outside entity is attempting to "deify" their own existence. That is one of the many reasons why a society dependent upon entitlements gets to be just that – dependant upon some thing or some entity to provide for them…in that provision, freedom is lost and "idolatry" (that being, that need to be able to "worship" at the altar of that entity that provides) starts to become rampid. Put it this way, in order for someone to take care of you and your needs, you have to "give up" some freedom. Look at history – in the Roman Empire, Emperors entertained the masses and fed them with grants to grain…all to keep them submissive to the empire. Another for example, a small child isn't totally free…they are dependent. The process of personal maturation is the process dedicated to giving a child more responsibility from which they act as they emerge in the world as "adults" (freedom expressed responsibly). Another "for example" – in order for the "broader society" (i.e. government) to give you something, you have to "give something" back in return. Although that usually that comes in the form of taxation, now we are flirting with the idea of having the government tell us that many of us have to submit our allegiance to a King/Kingdom in order to provide something to the society at large that is contrary to our conscience, commitments (and no, I'm NOT just talking about "that" issue – it is much broader than that).
So, here's the deal – essentially a dependent society is a "child-ish" society…something where the collective numbers of people in society are in a place of restricted freedom in order to get the benefits to which they feel entitled. Childishness is becoming a 21st century epidemic…and is becoming the "idolatry" of the century. As more and more is given, more and more freedom is acquiesced in order to "get." Remember, with freedom comes responsibility…that's why I think Jesus said that we would "always have the poor with us"…He knew that there would be that segment of society that would always be dependant. NOW, don't misunderstand me here…there is a realm of reality where we must care for each other…that is speficially a covenant community-oriented "call" or challenge (at least in my understanding of the bible) that must be taken seriously. But there are always potentialities in the exercising of freedom where there will be many who refuse to do anything but "worship" at the altars of those who would take their freedom in exchange for dependency. And trust me, dependency EQUALS bondage…because dependency eventually neutralizes personal responsibility. I wrote a "funeral homily" a couple of years ago on "Human Responsibility"…you can check it out here.
So, those are my thoughts for the day…I know, I know…I have way too much time on my hands…I don't even have all this stuff completely thought through…but one thing I do know, is that the bible calls me and you to "put away childish things…" It tells us that we have to embrace maturity and act responsibility within the realm of our freedom granted to us by God. As we become men and women of freedom and responsibility, we stand NOT for societal idolatry but for the responsibility of exercising our freedom in a manner that is faithful NOT to government edicts that wish to draw us into dependency but to the will of the real King and Lord who, once we submit to Him, gives us more freedom in return.