August 9 Reflections

When someone lives in bondage, slavery, or imprisonment they slowly but surely become numb to the true, the good, the beautiful. Eventually they forget that they were made for more.

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, a long-time prisoner named Red explains the psychology of prison to his friend Andy, who persistently dreams beyond the walls. “These walls are funny. First you hate ‘em, then you get used to ‘em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized. They send you here for life, and that’s exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.” Though Andy had been in prison a long time, he has not forgotten life outside the walls. He has not forgotten who he is. He says, “There something inside me…that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.”

Religious organizations and institutions routinely put people in bondage and prison. They bait you…set you up…and then trap you in religion. They will declare that you are saved by God’s grace alone. But once you enter or join the group, they hand you a list of 75 things you cannot do.  You were told that trusting in Jesus would lead to freedom. They might even quote Jesus, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Immediately though upon joining they set out to control you by inflicting rules, shame, “shoulds.” And one might wonder where is Good News? Where is freedom? Where did grace go? Where is lightness of spirit? Joy? Sometimes people have lived in bondage to rules, religion and should for so long they have forgotten who they are. They can only define themselves by what they don’t do, not by who they truly are in grace.

Religious groups, organizations and institutions can take your life away from you causing you to live in fear and shame. The Apostle Paul fought against this his whole ministry. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Do not let people with their human-made up rules and their bondage interpretations of faith lead you to be burdened. This week the Hebrew people are set free (Exodus 13). Pharaoh lets them go. What are they going to do? Do they remember who they are?  Are they going to choose freedom or slavery? A choice that you have as well: to choose the freedom Christ offers or to choose the bondage of religious institutions and organizations; to choose rules or relationships. We are going to think about this on Sunday as we continue to study the story of the Exodus, which is our story. Some possible passages to read: Exodus 13:17-22; Galatians 5:1-15; John 8:31-38.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn