True Freedom

I’m sitting on my porch as I write this. It’s a pleasant seventy degrees. With a slight breeze and warm sunshine- a near-perfect June morning in Middle America.

A fountain splashes in my garden and birdsong surrounds me, as soft as the sweatshirt around my shoulders. A motorcycle roars down a nearby highway. It is obscured from my view. But I know the rumble of a Harley.

I envision a helmet-less male driver with legs outstretched, a bandana and a beard blowing in the wind…

FREEDOM

This morning that word, impressed upon my heart, was followed by an urging to read Romans 8

Romans 8 confirmed that chaff is, indeed, being sifted from kernels of wheat; in the latest winds.

What is freedom? And have we lost it?  Or did we never really have any at all? It seems some have little to no freedom while others have too much and are abusing theirs. After 9-11 we all agreed to exchange freedoms for (a sense of) safety. It seems we are doing that again.

I have heard others express their thankfulness to live in my rural area where we can still be relatively free and safe.  I am thankful too, because I know it is where He planted me and would still have me be; for now.

Here is where this freedom paradox gets sticky: 

Gun memes are popular amongst Christian friends of mine. Gun sales are up; as are enrollment in gun classes and self defense classes.

At first I was alarmed about what is really happening. But I have now heard so much about Bill Gates’ microchip and Michelle Obama waiting in the wings as our next president, that I don’t trust any of the conspiracy theories whatsoever and see them as just more deception now… (I live in openly Trump country, and that allegiance gets lathered with a veneer of holiness). I am far more concerned, now, about what could be happening to the hearts of professing American Christians.

As a trauma survivor who has seen people injured, die and/or be threatened with death numerous times, I have no desire to arm myself against others. And the Lord also delivered me from political involvements a long time ago. Um, He also has done a mighty work in trying to cure me of presumptions, speculations, and using the Bible incorrectly (although I still do those things myself and so I am not in a position to judge others for it).

I will say this though: as a trauma survivor myself, I understand why war veterans, by nature, are often reluctant to fight. They know the heavy cost. Plus, Jesus did say: ‘those who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ Also interesting to me, when Jesus returns (in Revelation) the sword comes from His mouth…His Word seems to be the sword. Otherwise, wouldn’t He be carrying that sword in his hand?

Will evil fall by swords/guns/some kind of powerful divine destruction in the very end? or will it actually be destroyed by (at? from?) Jesus Word (or Words?)?

Either way: it seems to me we better choose our weapons (and our theology) wisely; right now. As for me, I realize the power in The Word and in my own words too. And in listening to Him and His word when my own words fail me. I don’t wish to trade that kind of power for the self-destruction of guns and fists and presumptions (theological or otherwise) and harsh words spoken in sin (even though I am still often guilty of the latter two; sigh).

Speaking of words: I just saw someone on social media using Patrick Henry’s 1775 rallying cry of : Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!

It is not lost on me that the country in which I live was founded upon rebellion and that we still tend to solve our problems by presuming we have no solutions other than to fight it out for ourselves. Those who live by the sword die by the sword; indeed.

True Freedom

I do wonder if some measure of true biblical freedom was either birthed here or brought here to America as an act of mercy; alongside that seed of rebellion.

Either way, somehow or other God saw to it that I would learn that real freedom is from Him and that it is the opposite of rebellion. True freedom comes from having my sins washed away in the blood of Christ. Through clinging to God in obedience and a pouring out of all my own strength. Which is seen as weakness in our human viewpoint.

But freedom in Christ is not weak, as in slavery, (to quote from Romans 8) but strong–as in we are the bought and paid for adopted sons and daughters of The King! Therein our souls and spirits will be kept safe (no matter what happens to us physically).

And I somehow learned that truth about freedom while living right in the middle of this vast land of the free.

To be proud to live in America– usually has more to do with personal liberty, and license, the ability to rent a private plane, to otherwise circumvent the usual systems, or to go to the store without a mask on…to gather in the streets and protest, and yes, to gather and worship as we choose, too. But in countries where there is a harsh consequence to worship (along with a lack of other basic liberties), we often see a purity and a devotion to God (that American fellowships seem to lack)–A clinging to their real freedom of eternal life.

In contrast: we who have personal liberties take our eternal life status for granted. Therein even religious freedom, for which American Christians are so grateful (rightly so), has a cost. Because it is only in such free places where we see that personal liberty is, by its very nature, antagonistic to the freedom we have in Jesus.

I had to be set free, myself, from a stronghold of personal liberty. Of gun-toting, Harley riding, wind in my hair, do whatever I want to do– freedom. In the place of ‘Give me Liberty, or Give me Death’, God wrote new words on my heart, and they are found in the first verses of Romans chapter 8:

…because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life HAS SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death.

To weaponize myself and defend any other idea of freedom would be to deny my real freedom. Even as I see other Christians speaking of doing just that. I cannot judge whether that means they never had real life in Christ to begin with; but it does give me pause.

As for me: I’m quite thankful to still have my porch and garden and other comforts. But: others can keep the Harley. And the guns. And the protests in the streets. Political this and that; too.

I LIVE.

Did you catch that? I am alive! I was once dead, but now I live (and will be alive forever, thanks to Jesus).

How much more free, could any person possibly be, after they are born again in Christ Jesus?

 

 

 

Rethinking the Rapture? Not so fast.

This post has been modified from when I originally wrote it. When I first wrote it, I was questioning pre-tribulation rapture theology.

As of this updated writing, I do once again believe the rapture of the church is a real event and that it is going to be a separate event from the final end time coming (of Jesus back to the world). I also believe that we who call on Jesus will avoid both the worst of the tribulation, as well as the final destructive wrath of God.

But before I came to that amended conclusion, I wrote the following:

The last time I took a big trip, I had an exit row seat on several airplanes. If you aren’t familiar: before the plane takes off the flight attendant asks the people sitting in those seats for a spoken verbal confirmation, agreeing that you will help evacuate the plane in an emergency.

As the flight attendant was asking for my verbal confirmation, I had the thought that I should be the last one off the plane. As a believer I know where I am going (heaven) and others may not be saved yet. So it is only just, and right, that others who may not be saved should be the first people to get off the plane safely. That way they could possibly still be saved before they die. And so, after having that thought and knowing it was true– I braced and steeled myself, in case any destruction did come on that plane, I would actually stay there and do the right thing. Not succumb to the flesh thing and escape myself, but actually stay and help others evacuate safely–just as I had pledged to do.

I mean, when you are sitting in a seat right by the main exit hatch, it’d be pretty easy to open it up and DUCK out yourself just to be safe…

I also knew that fending for my own safety, above the safety of others, would be a real temptation in a disaster. Because I know just how human, fleshy, and fearful I am!

As I was pondering the current times we are living in, it struck me that the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture theology could come across as incredibly flesh-y.

It’s a lot like saying– I’m sitting by the exit door and going to be the first one off the crashing plane! See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, suckers! To everyone left behind.

Wouldn’t it be more in alignment with basic Christian principles, for those of us already saved unto eternal life to stay on a plane going down just as long as possible, to try and make sure those who aren’t saved yet, get saved– before the wrath comes and it’s too late to save anyone?

Like sitting by the exit door on an airplane. What would a Jesus follower do in such a situation? She’d stay on the plane and try to make sure others lived (eternally), if at all possible. Her days would be filled with attempts to wake people up to the seriousness of the hour. She’d use all her energy and talents to bring people closer to Jesus.

What would selfish, fleshy me do? bail and preserve myself/not keep my word to help others off the plane…

Christians do have an exit row seat and we will be pulled out of here before the wrath of God comes down to destroy the world. That part is and has always been VERY clear in scripture. But with that prime seating spot, I am thinking comes greater responsibility toward others on the same plane; not less.

When I first wrote the above, it all seemed pretty simple and I was willing to discard a rapture theology that I came into believing later in my life (I grew up protestant–and I was not taught to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture as a child).

Since then God has reminded me many times that He is God. He does the saving, I do not. And when He decides it is time, it WILL be time. I will either fall in line with His plan or be left behind myself. What makes me think I know better than God Himself, how to save people anyway? The Great Tribulation will have a sifting effect. In my eagerness to ‘help with the harvest’ and save souls, what if I am working in opposition to God’s plan for the world; instead of in sync with it?

Listening to some old podcasts and interviews with Dave Hunt also had me rethinking my recent rethinking of the rapture.

In one interview Dave Hunt said the following, “If the bride isn’t eager for the wedding, better call the whole thing off!”

That one got to me. In my eagerness to save other people from impending doom, I wasn’t simply eager for the upcoming wedding–for meeting Jesus face to face myself. Which should always be my first goal and earnest desire as a Christian.

In the end I concluded that it isn’t about keeping an eye on others. It is about keeping my eyes so fixed on Jesus that I am very eager for the wedding, and will not hesitate to leave all here on earth (including other people) behind me. So that I can go and be married to the bridegroom. Because, again, if the bride isn’t eager for the wedding; better call the whole thing off.