At present, the student-led Christian Union of the the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is engaged in what is called “Mission Week.” The theme of “Freedom” has been running throughout the week, and yesterday’s public activity involved inviting members of the College community to pass by and depict what they understood freedom to be using watercolour paints on a large board.
There were some very interesting paintings and depictions. Nature scenes, food items, rock climbing, various instruments (special shout-out to the piano!) – a pictorial with the idea of ‘living outside the box – a full-colour representation of the facebook logo with a red X through it (yes indeed!) – and even a thumbprint that was meant to represent the freedom of democracy for the people of Iraq when the first elections were held after years of suppresion and tyranny – it was by a thumbprint that they voted. The conversations around this theme were some of the best I have had with non-Christians (and one Christian) in that building. Serious stuff, and all good.
But I had been reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer the day before, and this morning, after a night when Satan himself turned up to torment me (had God not showed up right on time and dispatched him, who knows where that could have ended up), I prayed this morning very seriously, but then I reached for Bonhoeffer again – I don’t know why, but I felt led. And now, having read something – I’m here to share it with anyone and everyone who will ‘listen.’
This comes from ‘Stations on the Way to Freedom’ –
If you set out to seek freedom, you must learn before all things
Mastery over sense and soul, lest your wayward desirings,
Lest your undisciplined members lead you now this way, now that way.
Chaste be your mind and body, and subject to you and obedient,
Serving solely to seek their appointed goal and objective.
None learns the secret of freedom save only by way of control.
Now, there might be Christian who says, “yeah yeah, very nice. But what does the Bible say?” I’ve found that some of those folk mean well, and some don’t. But either way, the question is a good one. Let’s go to the Word…
1 Corinthians 9:27
New King James Version (NKJV)
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Seventh-Day Adventists, we HAVE a health message…
Bonhoeffer’s second station:
Do and dare what is right, not swayed by the whim of the moment.
Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be.
Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom.
Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living.
God’s command is enough and your faith in him to sustain you.
Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit amid great rejoicing.
This requires much more unpacking for some readers, who miay well be confused by certain turns of phrase. I may have to save my usual lengthy explanation for another time, as I am supposed to be practising right now – and yet, I KNOW that I need to share this word before I go work on my playing. The challenge to deal with the real world rather than the world that one would LIKE to live in is a massive one. We are called to be ‘in the world, but not of the world’ – if you’re not familiar with John 17, then I earnestly suggest you address that ASAP. Jesus’ concerns and the focus of His intercession might just change your expectations of God’s work in your life – especially if you may have drifted into thinking that by doing good Christian living stuff, God now owes you something. Check out this verse:
New King James Version (NKJV)
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
God’s grace as a DEBT? When we do what we’re supposed to do as believing Christians? Which we can only do through the grace of God in any case? I DON’T THINK SO!
I’m now calm again.
More, much more, but to the third station:
See what a transformation! These hands so active and powerful
Now are tied, and alone and fainting, you see where your work ends.
Yet you are confident still, and gladly commit what is rightful
Into a stronger hand, and say that you are contented.
You were free for a moment of bliss, then you yielded your freedom
Into the hand of God, that He might perfect it in glory.
I read that, and I am more profoundly moved than I can say. But I will try to say, because that is the work of ministry – to try and express with lips of clay what is truly beyond the cognitive comprehension of humankind. But I see the life of John the Baptist, who died a terrible, terrible death.
SDAs, check out the book known as DA – page 258.
Freedom? I’m looking forward to writing part two, but today I close by saying that in freedom from oneself one is able to find freedom in God. But if we want the rest that Jesus offers (Matthew 11:28), then we need to accept His yoke as well (keep reading the following verses).
What do I need to be delivered from?
Who do I need to be delivered from?
Satan, the vile Arch-Enemy and author of sin itself?
No. Yes…………….but no.
I need to be delivered from me. And from my own mind.
Jesus, help me! Help all those who call out to you today for freedom from themselves.