Fear and Freedom

Fear and Freedom January 31, 2008

I think we really don’t know what freedom is. We talk about it. We claim to experience it. But do we really know what it is? I’ve become aware of the fact that we can claim to be free when it is very obvious we are not. We might think we are free. We might feel like we are free. But we don’t realize that we are in fact in some kind of bondage. We are not free, and we don’t have the discernment to understand the insidious nature of our bondage, and we don’t have the language to articulate this bondage.

Fear often blinds us. I’ve often said that fear is a gift to prevent us from harm. Fear is good sometimes. If I’m walking along a path in my wife’s home state of Alabama and I see a snake a few feet away, my immediate reaction is to leap backwards. Fear can prevent physical harm in such situations. But I also think fear applies to our primitive reluctance to walk into freedom. We know, intuitively, the cost of such freedom. We know that it means leaving some comforts and securities behind. It means walking into a pathless land beyond theology, doctrine, rituals, tradition, norms and custom.

Which explains why we can be so wrapped up in our theologies, etc., and think and feel like we are free. It is because they provide a warm security against the truth of reality which seems brutal, cold and fearful to us. The truth is, the beauty of Truth and Love lies beyond our fears. It takes courage, insight and honesty to move into this place beyond fear.

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  • I don’t know if there are any other Trek fans looking at this topic, but one of my favorite episodes of ST Voyager is entitled ‘The Thaw’, and explores what occurs to us when fear takes control of our minds and situations – it literally is a ‘mind killer’ ( to use Frank Herbert’s phrase). I know for myself the problem is I’m so often inescapably tethered to this ‘present bondage’ of being fallen flesh – I find myself worrying and being anxious about all manner of things (which only seems to multiply as the Grey hairs appear!). The reality, I think, is that we approach what Bunyan deemed to be ‘the cold waters’ of our own mortality, the only aid is Christ, so richly evident in Bread and Wine, or by the living waters that gently roar through His word – the one who alone can cease our sinking into oblivion due to the devastation He has silenced.

  • Kim

    When i see this, I really thank God for the internet. It is so helpful and healthy to be among you, David and Howard, in a virtual fashion. I have had a hard few days and altho I am too brain drained to make an intelligent contribution, I welcome coming on here for inspiration and thought on real life. Very nourishing. Cheers chaps!

  • Susanna

    Reminds me of a quote from the devotion I read this morning (http://www.forwardmovement.org/todaysreading.cfm):

    “A favorite saying in Spanish is: Caminante, no hay camino; se hace el camino al andar. It is translated: ‘Walker, there isn’t one way; one makes the way by walking.'”

  • sarah

    The security is a fake. It lasts all of one day and then just tires you out.

    Go for feeling insecure but going for it, any day.

    Sas x

  • Oh yeah! That is the basis of the church of today. The minister tells me, “Do this and that, and you are saved.” So I know I am saved. No questions, brings no doubt. Complete security in salvation. The deeper you dig, the more dirt that flies around. So my shovel stays on the ground. This is so true it is scary.

  • I think freedom is highly overated. I would rather just be told right out in black and white, “This is the right thing and the “good for you” thing. Go and do it”. Nice and safe. If Christ would just do that, things would be so much easier. But He doesn’t want mindless obedience, He wants us to seek Him and seek the truth. Perhaps the freedom is in the seeking. Also I think I read somewhere that the opposite of fear is faith. Faith is a little tough to nail down too. Sorry, does this make sense? I was just watching TV and am feeling a little “Lost”.

  • Steve

    Well put Howard. We are all about fear(except the part of us that is Christ’s-It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me – St. Paul). We don’t trust in the Lord (like we ought). He knows this , yet keeps us in His grip.

    But it was for freedom that Christ has set us free(Gal.) We may be in bondage to sin, but we are totally free in Christ…at the same time! Simul eustes et pecator, or something like that.

    Nate, nothing any pastor tells you to do will save you. Nothing you can do will save you. Christ has saved you, and that is enough. You are free. The true freedom that was won on the cross and is freely given to you. In the waters of baptism, in His supper, in His Word preached or read, he gives you His freedom over and over and over again, until that last day when He takes you home.

  • Laura

    yeah, but to move to the place beyond fear is just so damn…..well, scary. 😉

    good point NP!

  • One of the observations of certain Eastern Philosophers is that chronic fear is often an illusion and may be based on either an intellectual or emotional lie. There is a myth that states, “If you know the name of the demon then you have power over the demon and the demon has to give you its name if you ask it.”

    I think if we can come to a place where we can name our fear we can begin to overcome it. For, nameless fear is always invisible. I think too often we don’t ask fear its name.

    I think in some situations we don’t ask fear its name because then things will change and we no longer have an excuse.

  • I’m not sure Scripture says we’re free from everything. It says we’re free from sin, law various things like that but then says we are now to bind ourselves as servants of righteousness, still not free then.

    Freedom is always in context. I am free from many things, but my choice to be free from them forces me to be bound by something else. We’re people, finite, temporal, having to serve something.

    Being bound to Christ is great, but it’s not freedom–license to sin–it’s a bondage of a different sort, a good bondage, a life giving bondage, but bondage nonetheless.

    I have the freedom to be bound.

    I’m sure none of this has anything wo do with what you said but that’s what came out.

  • I’m want to be free of fear, but I’m so scared.

  • Good post – the biggest problem within churches seems to be this ‘fear’ and how it used to shape the whole program…when someone becomes un-afraid they can’t say too much to that person – the control game is over. Then the new one starts – the disobedience game.

    However, I think having a healthy respect for God is a good thing – but I think having a deep fear of God that makes one superstitious is damaging.

  • Freedom is essentially to do with deliverance from a bondage to sin and death – the curse of the human condition when we are alienated from God (and thereby each other, the world in general, even from our true selves). Freedom is the redemption of life – the entire created order. As Irenaeus put it: “the things which had perished possessed flesh and blood. For the Lord, taking dust from the earth, moulded man; and it was upon his behalf that all the days of the Lord’s Incarnation took place. He had himself, therefore, flesh and blood, recapitulating (re-instating) in himself not a certain other, but that original handiwork of the Father, seeking out that thing which had perished.”
    The paradox, of course, is that we currently live between the fallen and the restored, between the old and the new, but Christ’s work begun within us allows to look beyond ourselves to Him, the Alpha and Omega, where our confidence resides.

  • Not sure I saw this anywhere in the comments but fear = false, evidence, appearing, real!

    There is nothing to fear when you apply this acronym to the word. It really puts it in perspective.

    I learned this from a great life coach, Trent Blanchard and through his book Triple A’s For The Soul: Your Pathway To Personal Freedom. You can get it at Amazon.com.

    Lots of great tidbits and gems of wisdom.

  • Fred

    What is “freedom”? Until we define that term I think we’re talking about something that’s so subjective we are probably talking about 5 or 10 different things.

    Our “personal freedom” (…to “choose”) is even hampered by our own subconscious…check out “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell–extremely interesting and somewhat disturbing…

  • fishon

    Spot on, Fred.

  • For me the idea of freedom is the feeling of freedom. I would say that freedom based on external circumstances is impossible, but I certainly have the ability to choose no matter what the circumstances.

    I think this ability to choose is not available when we have become convinced to accept the idea that we have no choice. The truth is we always have a choice. And I have found that as long as I retain that awareness I feel free.

  • fishon

    I say, AMEN.

  • In my years I have read much on “freedom”, I have fought for “freedom”, I have preached about “freedom,” and the older I get the more I begin to believe the singer Janis Joplin was right in her song “Me and Bobby McGee”

    “Freedom is just another word for nothing else to lose”

    You see, if you have but one thin dime to your name, you are not free, you worry about that dime, losing it, somebody stealing it, mis-spending it…. when you worry, you are not free.

    I do believe we will never know true freedom until we cross that chasm the Apostle Paul calls “then.”