Free World

Quoted from Pariah, a new movie:

“I am broken. I am broken open. Breaking is freeing. Broken is freedom. I am not broken; I am free.”

First the context for this quote. I was trying to find a movie to watch from a bunch of trailers and the poster for this was a nondescript white background with black handwriting defining the word “Pariah.” English major interest is piqued at this point. However, this is actually a movie about a teen girl choosing a lesbian identity and calling it freedom. This trailer also uses the word “broken” to mean that some restraint is broken. (Like coming out of the closet… or breaking out of it.) I’m analyzing this thinly veiled worldly perspective on being free to make your own choices because I think I need to combat the sin of wilfulness. Wilfulness is related, but that is departing from the above theme a little.

As CJ Mahaney has tastefully worded it, we are not deprived but depraved. A pariah may seem deprived of societal status, but because any pariah is still human, pariahs are depraved too. Just like any accepted member of society is depraved. We are idolaters in some way/shape/form when anything is more important to us than God. It is increasingly common in world culture to twist the gospel of “grace for sinners and deliverance for the sinned against” into “unconditional acceptance for the victims of others’ lack of acceptance.” Celebrities like Lady Gaga promote a false gospel. Their songs sing that God accepts you just as you are – God has unconditional love for you. This is not the gospel. The gospel is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

CJ Mahaney continues, “The gospel is better than unconditional love.” God accepts us just as Christ is accepted. God never accepts me as I am, but as I am in Christ. And in Christ I am changed from the depravity in which I was born. Sometimes it seems like identity is the one thing we should not give up or change. To continue with the example, Lady Gaga’s front page Metro editorial subtitle was “Let identity be your religion.” But identity need not be so untouchable if we can say with gladness, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “I was born this way” (Gaga), but I am being made new after the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:20-24).

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Romans 6:20-23 (ESV)

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That bold part about being free just means not having to be righteous. Free to not be righteous is not so great a thing. And the measure of righteousness here is not “what feels right” but what God ordains as holy and pleasing to Him.

2 Peter 2:18-19 (ESV)

18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

Being overcome is to be subdued or won over — owned (pwned) might be a curiously fitting modern word, though maybe not entirely accurate. If you give in to something, even something that seems or feels good, you are overcome. And to that you are a slave.

John 8:31-38 (ESV)

The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

That’s how we get freedom. Not by being “broken open” and released as ourselves, but to abide in the word of God and to know the truth. You’re either free to break rules or free to follow them because you are not trapped by thinking that breaking the rules means you’re free. If I didn’t use too many negatives, that might make sense.

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Well, that was a good review for having listened to the first two parts of this sermon series. If you’re interested, CJ Mahaney’s three-part sermon series, The Idol Factory can be downloaded free here:

(Quotes above are from the first 15 minutes of Part 3. An outline is also available.)

“Twitterpated” (Bambi, 1942)

Flower: [about two birds fluttering around] Well! What’s the matter with them?
Thumper: Why are they acting that way?
Friend Owl: Why, don’t you know? They’re twitterpated.
Flower, Bambi, Thumper: Twitterpated?
Friend Owl: Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You’re walking along, minding your own business. You’re looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Whoo-whoo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head’s in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you’re walking on air. And then you know what? You’re knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!
Thumper: Gosh, that’s awful.
Flower: Gee whiz.
Bambi: Terrible!
Friend Owl: And that ain’t all. It could happen to anyone, so you’d better be careful.
[points at Bambi]
Friend Owl: It could happen to you…
[points at Thumper]
Friend Owl: … or you, or even…
[Flower looks at Owl shyly]
Friend Owl: Yes, it could even happen to you!
Thumper: Well, it’s not gonna happen to me.
Bambi: Me neither.
Flower: Me neither.

Quote obtained from IMDB

Watch the clip

Haha. After this, Flower, Thumper, and Bambi go on to ‘fall in love’ in the next 5-10 minutes of footage. Spring. Life. Excitement. Good old social observation.

Anyways, to put this in context, just because a bunch of skunk, rabbit, and deer friends can all grow up and move on at the same time in a Disney movie does not mean that it is realistic to expect the same for yourself. The real world is far less neat, and strings are left untied everywhere.

I’m not just saying this regarding ‘twitterpation’. Let’s turn the topic here.

Reality can induce a resentful (hence sinful) attitude towards… life. I say life, though I actually mean God; but if you believe God is in charge of your life, then saying ‘life’ would make sense, right? We often hide God behind life anyways. This resentment towards life often relates to comparison between the self and the other, where anything that is ‘other’ is better because it’s not what you have. (Straight hair/curly hair.)

A very good blog series on envy/comparison is being put out right now on girltalk that is well worth a read. (Maybe more so than this blog.)

Recent developments in my own life (getting accepted for further schooling) have prompted me to consider and affirm more deeply that God is always good to us whatever the circumstance. I write that not as vain self-reassurance, but because doubt crept into my mind a few times, and yet I knew that this was truth. God was just as good before I applied, while I waited, and after being accepted, but would still be just as good if I did not apply or did not get accepted. Of course I can praise God ‘for getting in’ to a school, but praising God for being good can happen with any of the aforementioned scenarios. Praise is in no way related to the circumstance, for it is related first of all to the subject, God, who does not change like the “shifting shadows” of situation (James 1:17).

People in truly horrible circumstances are usually better at praising God than their ‘fortunate’ counterparts – I would say it is for lack of distraction by socially coveted ‘blessings’.

Anyways, read that blog! especially March 16 and March 17. It looks at John 21.

The Pulley (by George Herbert)

With the traffic this post gets, I’ve started to wonder whether readership is from the high school and university academic community trying to write their essays / exams on George Herbert. Well, I hope you find this analysis useful to your understanding, but it’s quite a personal take on the poem.

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20279

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which disperséd lie,
Contract into a span.”

So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honor, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

“For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.

“Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness.
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast
.”

First let me add a good diagram I found:

Pulley System

Pulley System

Here’s how I can interpret this poem.

The title: a wheel and cable pulley. The more you pull towards yourself on one side, the further it goes on the other; only let go and…

What is the “Rest” that in the bottom lay? Satisfaction. If you think of rest, you only rest after finishing a piece of work, and you only finish a piece of work when you are satisfied with it. (Supposing you care about this work.)

You can work hard for anything, be it a decent paycheck, good grades, quitting a bad habit, living a good life, or even prominence in ministry. When that happens it is essentially you working – you may not have rest (i.e. be satisfied), but you can have all ‘the rest’ of God’s gifts (beauty, wisdom, honour, pleasure). We can do any number of good things, and make any amount of effort aspiring to those things, but this cannot bring us close to God (make us presentable before Him). All that we can aspire for can leave us restless for that which satisfies our souls and puts them to rest – the oxymoronic servant-king that is Christ, who in one death accomplished and finished all that we cannot do in our entire life.

The paradox of salvation in the gospel is that I must admit that no effort of mine in pulling the pulley will bring me the Rest I seek. Christ came to us; we did not merit Him by our efforts. I can pull much yet not have what I need: the grace and mercy of Christ who justifies me by dying the death I should die for my sin and rebellion from God. Rather, when I admit weariness and let go of my progress, however far the pulley has gone in my own strength, that is when I get the satisfaction I tried to work for. It’s a little bit of the puzzle.

“I am weary of not being all I expect myself to be! I cannot pull satisfaction to myself!”

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”  – Romans 8:20-21

“… But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior…” – 2 Tim 1:8-10

[Interesting: Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 discuss “rest”; Sabbath-rest vs. God’s rest. Wonder if Herbert got the idea from here? “That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 3:10-11]

Food sitting in your bag

Have you ever had food sitting in your bag – like a snack you thought you might need for the day – and felt like you had to eat it even though you weren’t hungry? (Perhaps at that moment you are not so engrossed in your work as you should be.)

Then you eat it. It’s more than you actually need to eat for the day. You should have just left it alone, for another time when you are actually hungry. You know you’ll like it. You do like it while you’re eating it. Then you regret it afterwards. “Why was that necessary?”

It’s kind of like not doing the right thing. At that moment it looks like an attractive option. You kind of ‘just want to’. It will actually be enjoyable – for the brief while that it lasts. But even as it’s happening you know you shouldn’t have. And like that food sitting in your bag, you think “I might as well!” But though you can do anything you want, not everything is a good idea.

“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.  (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Kind of random, but ‘meat eating’ has also been on my mind.

We all know what happens to the poor animals on those giant factory farms, but what are we doing about it? I actually don’t have a problem eating meat and I love meat; I guess I buy the circle of life idea. If a bear eats me, then so be it. (Though this is highly unlikely.) If a fisherman catches a bunch of fish, we eat it. If he doesn’t we don’t. But … the lack of living that factory farm animals undergo is really disturbing. Our assumption that “the supermarket has to always be stocked up with loads and loads of animals/animal products” is disturbing and not natural. The amount of meat most people eat is unnatural.

I guess this is turning into a rant for sustainability?