Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Illusion of Freedom

As a nation we have championed freedom for over two centuries but as of late, I'm afraid we are now preaching a lie.  I fear that as a country and a society, we no longer believe in freedom.  Oh, we say we do, and we think we do, but when our actions are examined closely, it can quickly be seen that this is all an illusion.   Nowhere is this reality more evident than when it comes to the freedom to fail.

We refuse to grant people the freedom to fail anymore.  We have conditioned a generation or two that all they have to do is nothing and someone from somewhere will save them from their folly.  I sat in a meeting this week were 12 of the most selfless and wonderful people I know discussed for an hour what we could or would do to help two families who completely refused to help themselves out of their situations.  I was left wondering why their failure to help themselves was suddenly our problem?  Then I turn on the news and see how every year our nation spends billions of dollars all in the hopes of not allowing people, who refuse to succeed on their own, to fail.

Yes, some people need help, and yes we should help them.  But there is a fine line between helping and enabling.  What about those who don't want to succeed?  Shouldn't they be free to make that decision for themselves?  If they choose to fail why do we try to stop them?  Why do we try to rob them of that freedom?  After all, is that not a freedom that God Himself has given us?  If I refuse to work or take care of myself, its not like God causes money and food to fall from the sky.  

One of the greatest gifts God has given us is freedom.  He has freed us from the fear of death through His sacrifice, He has freed us from guilt and shame through forgiveness, He has freed us from punishment through His grace, yet we don't want it.

We just don't seem to want freedom.  In fact, mankind has never really seemed all that big on it.  Every now and then we find a generation that will fight for freedom, but then over time, those who come after tend to slowly give it away again.  It's almost like we don't want the responsibility that comes with it.  We give away our freedom to kings and governments.  We even give it away to religion, rather than seek God on our own, for generations we have simply asked religion to tell us what to believe.  Just tell us what to do and we will do it.  We want other people to make decisions for us.  And why? What is it about humans that we constantly reject this wonderful gift of God?

The problem with freedom is that it is risky.  It take guts.  Guts to pursue our dreams and risk losing everything in the process.  The greatest of ironies since at the end of every life we lose everything anyway.  Rather than experience the euphoria of the adventure that accompanies freedom, we trade it for the illusion of safety.  The certainty of routine and in doing so we are once again allowing the boa constrictor of oppression to slowly tighten his grip on us.  With each little squeeze we rejoice with how much safer we feel in his embrace.  We are repeating the cycle of humanity as we yet again reject the gift of God and forsake the freedom He desires for us.    

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tim Tebow and the First Baptist Church of Dallas

Recently Tim Tebow made some news for agreeing to speak at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, then he made even more news for canceling his appearance.  There has been a lot of debate swirling around as to whether or not he made a good decision but that's not what I want to talk about right now.  I'd like to talk about both sides of the controversy.

Had Tebow spoken at the church he would have been viewed as controversial by many in the LGBT community as being anti-gay or at least anti-gay marriage based on the stance of the church.  By not speaking he is now controversial among Christians primarily for not taking a stand for his beliefs and caving to the pressures of the naysayers.  Whatever the true reason for Tebow's decision is up to him and honestly his business.  I would guess that it must be exhausting just to be him and have everything you do either questioned or mocked by half the nation.

The point I'd like to evaluate is this notion that we must separate ourselves from people who are controversial.  Why must we do so?  I think if we asked most people that question the reason given would be that we don't want others to think that we think the same way as the person we are trying to distance ourselves from.  We see this all the time in politics.  "Leaders" (and I use that term loosely) establish their clans and then avoid all others so there is little chance of being "associated" with people with who have different stances.  But again I ask, "Why?"  When we break this down to its most basic premise, we are just plain scared of what people might think we think.  Once again, it is perception that we allow to trump truth.  Why can't we as a nation develop the fortitude to be comfortable with our own true thoughts.

Tebow's thoughts are Tebow's thoughts.  Where he delivers them really doesn't matter.  As Christians especially, we are called to love everyone, so if that's really the case, why do we have to avoid anyone?  If a Christian celebrity gets called to speak at the Westboro Baptist Church or a Gay Convention, why do they have to "avoid" either.  Why can't they just stand up and confidently speak their own thoughts and their own beliefs and if the hosts get upset too bad, its their fault for inviting that person.  When we are transparent and real, we don't have to avoid people because everyone knows where we stand.  And for those who think we think differently, they are wrong, the truth is what really matters.

Christian, atheist, conservative, liberal, where every we stand it's time to stop cowardly pandering to perception.  It's time to stop furthering the divisions of our nation by "avoiding" and "distancing" ourselves from one another.  It's time to stop worrying about where others think we stand based on who we hang out with.  It's time to speak the truth about what we believe, whatever that might be, and have the courage to let the chips fall where they may.