Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Obedience - Captivity or Freedom?

My friend Ally Spotts threw caution to the wind and gave up her teaching job to pursue a career as a writer.  She writes a lot about dating and relationships and has a huge following of well-educated readers who engage in thought-provoking dialog initiated by Ally's writing.

She just started a six post series called What's The Big Deal About Saving Sex for Marriage.  As you can imagine, this series is getting tons of traffic and feedback.  One guy wrote this:  I definitely appreciate this discussion. One of the things I've been thinking about a lot is how Christianity has often been painting as a "God saved us to not do a lot of things" type of religion/faith. But I'm beginning to wonder what did God save us to? Is it just a list of things we can't do or does he love us enough to push us toward something higher/great/better?

For whatever reason, his post stirred me to write what God has been teaching and teaching (and teaching) me over the past two years about obedience and freedom and boundaries.  I felt a bit silly posting to a website with a target audience of anything under age 30, but here's what I wrote.  

"Hey Tyler. I’m a mom so forgive me for the parenting illustration, but think about a fence in a back yard. It has a dual function: to keep bad things out (neighbors -that's a joke, kidnappers, weeds) and good things in (kids, dogs, balls). When we didn’t have a fenced-in yard, I couldn’t let my kids play outside by themselves because it wasn’t safe. As a result, they often stood longingly looking out the window and badgering me to stop cooking and go out and play.
Now that we have a fenced-in yard, they are free to run and play outside whenever they want. When they stay in the boundaries of the fence, they have freedom. If they step outside the gate, they open themselves up to danger from the outside AND the wrath of their Momma who will inflict big consequences on them to teach them that obedience is for their own good, not because I'm mean.
The same is true in following Christ. The things God asks us to obey serve a dual function: to protect us from bad things and to allow us to live in freedom within those boundaries. When we obey, we live a life filled with freedom and joy – the kind of joy that comes from following Jesus even when it’s tough. When we step outside the boundaries, we open ourselves up to danger from the outside AND the wrath of our Father who, because He loves us, will discipline us.
I John 5:3 says it best: “This is love for God: to obey His commands. And his commands are not burdensome…” We show God our gratitude and our love for Him by OBEYING. And as we obey, we learn the freedom that life in Christ offers because his commands are not burdensome. Does that make sense?"
What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I have been following Ally's blog and love it. I get what you are illustrating with the fence, boundaries, safety, freedom. Having a broader point of reference meaning my kids are now able to go beyond the fence on their own as some are well into their 20's, that fence is no longer the shelter of safety. They begin to view the fence as keeping them from "what is actually out there." That shelter behind the fence is safe and does protect, but it does not teach. I like to look at it in terms of walking outside the fence and holding hands when they are young, and explaining the dangers, so that when there is no fence they are not fearful to step into where ultimately God would want us to be a light.
    As we walk through the challenges of these issues, seek God in ALL things and allow the Holy Spirit to hold our hand, there is that desire to wait, to hang onto that purity There is a deeper value in our identity in Christ rather than the world, the views, the fences which look different from one person to the next. There is that intimate desire to follow the heart of Jesus which then keeps us from having sex outside of marriage. My own children are often challenged in the fact that they have not had sex. There is disbelief. My daughter has said, after kissing her first boy at 21, and only having kissed, that she can see how, for her that she has to remain pure, because kissing is so much fun she can understand how kissing can lead to sex. Your body kicks into sex gear. So her "fence" her desire to remain pure for her husband, and my son's desire for the same allows them to have a "fence" a line that may be further back than some. Both will say it's not easy, but it's through their relationship with Christ they can remain pure in this area of their lives.

    I did not have that spiritual hand-holding that my kids have and for that reason, that is how I have taught them. Talking boldly as young children about these issues when they came up. So that if ever the gate was left open and they wandered beyond that fence they were equipped.