“If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we are partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” J.R.R Tolkien
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first!” Jim Morrison
In 2010 I was rocked to the core as I watched an interview with the once popular and wealthy Pentecostal preacher Carlton Pearson. Carlton once hosted some of the largest Conferences in the USA, met and prayed with Presidents and dignitaries and was seen by many in Charismatic circles to be something of a mouth piece for the Divine. All was good UNTIL Carlton woke up with a few new thoughts! Carlton began to re-think the nature of Divine reality and started questioning just how well the Charismatic order had portrayed a God who apparently would save some but not all, and who was willing to sacrifice His son in a brutal way to appease His own blood lust. A great starting point for a theological dilemma! As I watched the interview I saw a humble man coming under a great onslaught of verbal assault by his onlookers, It was hard to watch! Yet as I did it seemed to me that Carlton’s only real crime was that he was daring to ask a few pertinent questions regarding obvious errors in Church doctrine, AND that for the first time in his life was daring to be honest and real about what he was beginning to realize may have been wrong! The real crime that Carlton committed was one of allowing freedom to manifest in the face of dogmatic certainties! I remember just how impressed I was by the man. In no way did Carlton feel the need to defend himself as he was ridiculed by the live audience, as a matter of fact in many ways he had empathy for the congregants as he realized that he also once believed their same sacred views! As I watched I remember saying “Lord I don’t agree with all that this man is saying, as a matter of fact I have some serious questions regarding his theology, BUT Lord one thing I can’t deny is that this man seems FREE!!” That day changed my life forever as I realized that in all of my touring of Charismatic Christianity that I had yet to meet a person who was absolutely free to be and to express what was in their heart whether right or wrong! Yet this was the very reason Jesus died right? Apparently; “It was for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free!”
“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself!” Oscar Wilde
Our freedom is highest priority! If you look at the teachings of Jesus it seems that His highest regard was that humanity may walk in freedom, that they may be FREE and free indeed! The Church because of insecurity has done a great job of suffocating that freedom. We accept others who are ‘Different,’ all the while wanting to get our hands on them to make them just like us! So much is uniformed, so many are cloned. All too often relationships within the church system are based upon theological agreements, unity based upon us all thinking the same way and in some churches dressing the same way! In most congregations the back door is a busy as the front, as guys walk in anticipating a new life of being free to be themselves only to find that yet again they have to conform to the image of the House! Sadly I’ve seen many have their glorious liberty shut down in church environments as they dared to express their deepest feelings or thoughts. Way too many have been hurt just because they dared to ask a question or roll on the floor in fits of laughter. Surely our God isn’t so insecure that His reality can’t hold up to a few pertinent questions being asked? It seems ludicrous to think that the one who created difference also get’s offended once that difference manifests! Stupid!
I’m finding that the more I evolve outside of these structures the more I deepen friendships with those in whom there is real difference. It’s so refreshing to connect with other humans without feeling the need to change them or to make them just like me! It’s amazing to have relationships where difference is not only no longer a problem BUT where it is embraced, appreciated and where it enhances rather than destroys the relationship! I love what Jim Morrison said;
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself- and especially to feel or not feel, Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be who he really is!”
Sadly this has not been in the foundation in many church relationships, as a matter of fact the freedom to be and say who you are is usually the demise of opportunity to grow in greatness together. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who once said;
“If everyone is thinking alike, then no-one is thinking!”
Way too often unity is replaced by uniformity and ‘Fear-dom’ rules over ‘Freedom!’ Can I remind you yet again that apparently the one reason that Jesus died according to ancient manuscripts was for your absolute and unadulterated FREEDOM! People get scared as soon as you talk about being free to be YOU! Often the first thought that springs to mind is; “Well just make sure that you don’t sin in all of your freedom!” This is such a crazy mindset and yet again a symptom of wrong thinking promoted within church circles due to legalistic teaching and little focus on reality! Firstly, I love what C S Lewis (I think) said; “Until you are free to sin you are not free at all!” Secondly to understand the glory of this freedom, is to realize that the freedom that we get thrown into is a freedom which keeps us from harm and does not promote it!! Its a ‘Glorious’ Freedom! I don’t think any of us fully understand the wonder of this freedom. Yes you can dance in church, yes you can walk around hammered drunk, yes you can cuss all you want and toke the Baby Jesus (Years after others pioneered it lol,) you can have all of the appearance of freedom but all of this means nothing if it’s just a show, a picture of freedom but not freedom indeed! My journey was that I was seriously hammered in the Spirit for years, yet I knew there was something not right! As I’ve already said when I saw the Carlton Pearson interview I was rocked to my core because I realized that this guy was free to share his deepest thoughts and questions. He was free! It wasn’t a freedom based upon right or wrong, but a freedom based upon being able to be honest with yourself and to share that honesty with others! I loved that. I loved it because I knew that I also had many questions YET I was scared to be honest with myself and others BECAUSE I had ‘stuff’ to protect. I had a ministry, I had partners who gave to us each month, I had a livelihood to look after! All the while I was dying on the inside because I wasn’t being honest with myself NOR was I free to share with others the real me! I realized that something had to change, that in many ways it would be better for me to work in secular employment and be free to be me, then to live a lie everyday only being able to share with others half of who I truly was! This has been my journey ever since, it’s just a desire, but I totally believe that it’s a holy desire!
“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve either one!” B Franklin
Man how often do we totally tailor our conversations, behavior or attitude due to not wanting to lose something or someone? Another year goes by and we realize that we may of maintained a few things BUT that in reality and in doing so we have lived a lie and have never enjoyed the bliss of our freedom! Can you remember Nicodemus? He was the guy who came to Jesus late at night with some questions and thoughts. The guy was apparently too scared to approach Jesus in the light of day for fear of being seen. It seemed he had a lot to lose and to protect so he had to tailor his freedom or lack of it accordingly! Recently I have had guys also come to me like Ole Nicodemus! Guys with a lot to lose, a lot to protect! They would never just blurt out on Facebook or Twitter what they are now beginning to question or explore because they also have a stuff to lose, maybe invites, maybe partners, maybe friendships. YET freedom is beginning to grip their hearts and they are starting to at least begin to dabble in what it really feels like to be free indeed, to maybe explore life beyond the conditioned thinking of right and wrong! It’s great to see! Church life may of been suffocating and restrictive for many YET there is a bigger picture outworking here where the sons of Divine life are waking to reality! I have great hope, for them and for myself, that together we may be able to talk openly and to think differently in the public domain. I also have great hope for freedom in relationships, that together we can enjoy the freedom to be ONE and to still walk with integrity in our identity in the midst of DIFFERENCE! How awesome would that be? Can you imagine a freedom to be YOU every day of your life. A freedom that allows you to share the deepest YOU and communicate your craziest thoughts whether right or wrong, without fear of being isolated or ridiculed! WOW
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes!” Mahatma Gandhi