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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Freedom & Captivity

This past Sunday, my pastor stood before our little church and said this: “Lately, the Lord has really been speaking to me about freedom.”

His statement took me by surprise because lately, the Lord has been dealing with me on the exact same topic. Freedom – it’s central to our Christian faith. After all, Christ came “to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” – Isaiah 61:1.

Captivity. It's the opposite of freedom. And it's never pretty, no matter how you slice it.

I’ve walked the grounds of M and I’ve seen physical captivity.

Yes, that would be a picture of a child imprisoned in a cell.

I’ve witnessed spiritual captivity among my unsaved friends and family members. These are people who are dear and precious to me who simply will not admit their need for Christ. They are prisoners to their own self righteousness and captive to their own resourcefulness.

But captivity is not just for non-believers.

Among the Christians in my life, I know many who are held captive by the sin in their lives. I know people who are in bondage to alcohol, to lust, to anger and bitterness and much more.

And, without question, I’ve experienced my own share of captivity. Haven't we all?

I am amazed at our ability to subject ourselves to captivity again and again. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." -- Gal 5:1 (empasis mine). How often do we throw off one yolk only to put another one right back on?

We can radicalize our lives and throw off the chains of materialism and the American Dream… only to shackle ourselves inside a prison of legalism – a set of rules and regulations for how the “real” Christians must live.

We can beat down the beast of laziness and surrender our free time to launch an international ministry… only to take on the yoke of pridefulness -- because we've done this thing and others have not.

And once we fall prey to pride, we’re in big trouble.

I believe that pride is the greatest danger of this blog world, and perhaps to any proclaimer of God’s Word. A well-intentioned writer or speaker can come up with a couple of good words, receive a little affirmation, a little praise of man… and poof! You’re a prisoner. It owns you. And in case you can’t tell, I’m speaking on all this from personal experience.

I’ve seen it in myself and I’ve seen it in fellow bloggers. Last week, I came face to face with a situation that rocked my world and broke my heart. It was the result of someone being truly imprisoned by pride, to the point that they hindered their own ministry. It was captivity at its very worst – and that’s a place I hope to never, ever go myself. Because it doesn't really matter how many people you're encouraging, how many you're able to spur on to action -- if you're not doing it for the glory of God, you shouldn't be doing it at all.

I sincerely pray that the Lord will shut my mouth and turn off my blog long before I ever get to that point. Because apart from the Gospel, there's only one thing I know for sure: I don't know it all. I never have and I never will on this side of Heaven.

Whew. I’m glad that’s off my chest. Moving on…

A few weeks ago, I was asked to help with the Pre-Summit event for adoptive moms in Louisville, KY in early May. In keeping with my earlier point (you know, the part about “not knowing it all…) I will not be a speaker at this event or a teacher of any kind. I’m just helping organize the event and I may facilitate a small group or two.

If you’re considering attending the Summit, please join me. I may not have anything to teach but I’ve sure got a lot to learn. Come learn with me, I’d love the company!


Melissa said...

I so appreciate this post. It so much needs to be said!!! Amen!!! I find myself not wanting to read certain blogs because of this. This christian life is so so not about us...it is about him and how he is writing our story. We are just privilaged and blessed to be used by him. The minute I think I might have it together or understand the gospel is the same moment I am knocked down to realize how horribly sinful I am and how much I don't get the gospel or how to live this christian life. I am blessed to be doing life with you friend. I am blessed by your honesty.

Wild Olive said...

Pride is such a crazy beast. Just when I think I'm rid of it, I get prideful about losing my pride. Good grief! It's a blessing to have believing friends who walk beside us to keep us accountable...not only for pride, but enslavement to all kinds of sin.

Satan...I hate that guy.

Alison said...

Love this...so true. Thanks for this great reminder. Satan can use our pride so much to hinder our ministry. I have fallen victim so many times. May God continue to convict us of sin and pride, so that we can be completely free to glorify HIM alone!!!

Anonymous said...

Shelly this is the second time I have read this post. I am so ever thankful that you testify not only to the inestimable grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also to our neverending need of it. peace and blessings, Anna

Shanda said...

Well said. The blogging world has it's own set of prison walls. On the other side of pride is the jealousy of other bloggers. You are right: if we are not blogging to bring glory to God, we should not be blogging!

Christi said...

Love this post. Just poked around on your page and would like to be able to message you privately with some questions.... but am not finding your email. Can you send me a note at ucherek1 AT hotmail DOT com?

The Fruitful Family said...

I love that you continue to speak truth in love with the desire to fear God, not man. Pruning is not easy nor fun, but it is a glorious process! Love you!