Your Freedom

Your Freedom November 16, 2022

Photo by Sebastian Arie Voortman:

A few days ago, someone said “I will pray for you, Karl.” They weren’t saying it because they were concerned for me, they were saying it because they disagreed with me and they wanted me to come back into their “fold.” It’s a way of gas lighting and bypassing because it means “You are obviously wrong and only God could save you.”

Since I see prayer a little differently these days, and I don’t like to use it in manipulative ways, my temptation is to say “just tell me what you are praying for and I will report back to you in 6 months and let you know the results in front of your congregation.” Sorry if that’s a little snarky.

It got me thinking about praying for other people like I used to. What is it that I hope for people? I suppose that it is what I’ve always hoped for people. I want them to be free and that applies to so many areas, but it has certainly changed in scope for me recently.

This is a brief recall of what I hope for the people I know

1. Freedom from Dogmas and Creeds

This doesn’t mean that I don’t want people to believe in things. Our search for truth and meaning is hardwired in us, but creeds and belief systems are meant to control us. I am still on a search for truth everyday, but when I decide that I’ve got it figured out and I tried to entice or force people to adopt an exact belief system, that’s where the problems begin.

Stay on the journey, none of us is right.

2. Freedom from Religion

People generally like their religion. The reason they like it is because anything that alters our mood creates a low grade addiction. There’s a codependency between pastor and prisoner that keeps both of them coming back and helping them stay committed. But generally, religion doesn’t provide the intimacy necessary for healing and it often has toxic undertones and controlling mechanisms that make it not at all worth the effort.

We have a hard-wired desire to search for truth, meaning and belonging, but the organizations we create do not produce the spiritually and community we are searching for. There is a simple spirituality that’s available without buildings, clergy, and organizations. It avoids the waste, the trauma and the abuse. I have found that it is worth pursuing and gives me the freedom I was searching for all along.

3. Freedom from Politics

For the past 40 years, the Evangelical Church in America has become deeply entwined with politics. Up until 2020, the progression has been ugly and exactly the opposite of what Jesus might have hoped for. The devotees, speak of patriotism and freedom, as they lead an insurrection of the US Congress, chanting wishes to un-alive their own Vice President.

Winning became more important than anything. Maybe some of the initial thoughts were honorable–I used to be a conservative, but I took a left turn towards independence when Donald Trump was elected. Hiring a bully at the highest level to get what you want seems childish and shortsighted. The end result was predictable, as the bully now throws tantrums and demands attention, even though he is likely to be indicted for dozens of crimes.

To me, freedom is not necessarily getting everything I want. Freedom is when I can live authentically and when I operate in such a way that I am able to do things like love my neighbor, show empathy and compassion to others, and when I don’t have to have any groups or organizations that control me or dictate my behavior.

Groups and organizations are often simply common enemy intimacy–they hate the same people. Not only do they control believers, but they got to control others. My prayer for you is that you consider breaking free from your bondage to organizations and groups that encourage you to hate who they hate.

This begins with religious organizations, who are at the least, hate the devil, and progressively add new names to list all the time. You’re capable of doing the assessment for yourself, and I encourage you to do so.

Our new book, Out into Desert, represent the assessment we did when we stopped and took some time off of church and evaluated whether or not it was absolutely necessary in the 21st century. We told some of our stories and honestly looked at whether we were thriving in the “desert.”

We invite you into this conversation.

Try to become aware of the people and the groups that are controlling what you believe and what you do and calling it freedom. Look for ways to break free of these entanglements, without sacrificing your search for the truth.

Be where you are,
Be who you are,

Karl Forehand

Browse Our Archives