So today, my question to all of you that are reading this blog is: What prison are you in?
Let me explain the reason behind my question. Most of you have been to church, or at least have seen Charlton Heston portray Moses in that epic film The Ten Commandments. But for those who have never heard of either Moses or Charlton Heston, let me refresh you.
You see the Jews were slaves in Egypt and being horribly mistreated. God called Moses to rescue them from their captivity. Ring a bell? So, after performing many miracles in their release from their captors, they come to a great river and God opens it up so they can cross on dry land. Amazing, right!! They get to the other side and start grumbling and complaining, wishing that they had stayed as slaves in Egypt. This really ticked Charlton, I mean Moses off. Are you following me? Here is my point: After all that their God had done they began to reflect on their situation and convinced themselves that they were better off in captivity. The journey to freedom had been trying and very difficult, making it easy for them to look back at the "good old days" of Egypt.
I've done that. Have you? Sometimes when things get tough in our current life situation we tend to romantisize our former circumstances. We would rather be "enslaved" in our past than free in the present. We had this discussion at church last night and it brought to mind two principles that I have encountered:
- The familiar is less threatening that the unfamiliar, even though it may not be healthy for us.
- Sometimes freedom creates an anxiety that is too overwhelming to cope with.
The other might be surprising. I have met and counseled with many Christian folks (on the inside and outside) that in spite of their strong faith in Christ are still bound by living within unattainable rules. They set the bar of behavior too high for themselves and others. Legalism is their prison and it is just as real as the bars and razor wire that holds felons in their place. So, which do you think is a more real prison? I believe both are very real to the captive. The actual inmate needs someone or a few people to catch him/her as he leaves his concrete home and enters the free world, in order to help him make the adjustment. He needs someone to believe in him and assist him in adjusting to his new-found freedom.
The virtual inmate, or as I like to call them, the Christian Felon, needs something similar. He or she needs a person who understands mercy and grace to come alongside of them and assist them in their adjustment to their free world. The chains of legalism are just as restricting as the handcuffs and literal chains of the sentenced inmate. As often as I can, I remind the guys I minister to behind bars, that they can be freer than some folks who have all the freedom that they need. Some are. Are you? What imprisons you? What imprisons me? When we discover our limitations we ought to be willing to get the assistance we need to break free from our imprisonment.
I'll leave you with this from the Gospel of John 8:32 "...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Until next time,