Most of us view freedom as being at liberty to speak, work, live, and move around the world. We often envisage being free as a life by the blue oceans on a Greek island somewhere like the famous Santorini. Soaking up the sun while a waiter brings us an ice cold beer is every persons idea of what freedom looks like, right?
But what if I were to suddenly remove you from that environment and plunge you into a prison for a few weeks? Immediately you’re depressed and you feel an incredible loss of freedom. Once you had the luxury to move around and enjoy the finer things of life, and you’re answering to a prison guard every morning and cellmates with Jack the ripper. Anyone with half a brain could see that ones amnesty has been severely compromised.
What if I told you that everything you ever learned about freedom was programmed into you by the culture you soaked up from birth? For example, I recently bought a little boxer puppy. Another dog owner says, “you train the dog according to your needs and what you want her to do.” I have to use food in order to do that. Dogs will do anything for a piece of chicken believe me.
Us humans are not much different. The culture around us will train us according to what it wants us to do. In Islamic countries you’re brought up in Sharia Law. In India you’re brought up a Hindu. In North Korea you’re brought up an Atheist and taught to snitch your way to the top. In Europe or America, you’re brought up according to secularism and a melting pot of just about every religion and none, yet there is always a secular hierarchy.
There are some teachings in this world that are taught locally, but there are human traits that are taught universally. We all get jealous, envious and are living on crazy ideas about what love and freedom is. When we are out walking the dog we are brought up to believe that is freedom. When we are thrown in prison we are told that it’s “natural” to be upset and want to hang yourself with the nearest shoelace your cellmate smuggled in through his butt hole.
What a sad ending to ones life I think we’d all agree. What caused it? All of us are responsible for our actions before the Lord, but you know what was the major influence? Not his circumstances, it was mostly his programming that told him he’s not supposed to be able to cope in a situation like this. That’s what killed him. If someone had told him the secret who knows if he’d still be alive today?
I must warn you though, simply telling you the secret isn’t going to suddenly rewire your brain. It’s not going to change anything. Shedding ones old skin to reveal the new takes quite a lot of time depending upon your willingness to search and Gods willingness to respond to that fervour with Grace.
What is the secret? This will blow your mind. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS LOSS OF FREEDOM. At least not how the world understands it. You can lose your freedom, in fact you’ve lost it already, but it’s not according to what the world teaches the loss of freedom is. The upside down worlds understanding of loss of freedom greatly differs from that of the upright world of God. Why did I say upside down world? Because that’s what it is, it’s a mess. It is the absolute polar opposite to the Kingdom of Christ.
You’re not going to like that. Every fiber of what the culture has taught you is now snapping in your soul at such a bold statement. You’re brain has received a shock like no other. “What do you mean there is no such thing as a loss of freedom? That’s like saying the earth is flat.” haha. I can hear what you’re saying. Go on… keep talkin… “It’s impossible not to be physically in a prison with Jack the Ripper and not be upset. To be subject to his torture and beatings in the night while you sleep and not cry your eyes out.”
Yes, that is what you’ve been told, but how come when I put someone else in that person shoes they don’t cry or whimper? They’re happy, and they feel free all the while being subject to periods of time in a dark hole with no light but that of the moon which flares through their prison window? Why the change in reaction to the environment? Different personalities? Ha! Hardly. It is because one man was taught being upset was a normal reaction whereas the other was taught to be content and happy in every circumstance, that nothing and nobody even if they violated the most sacred places of his body, could ever rob him of being free and happy.
You see, we are already in a prison. For as long as we get angry, depressed, envious we might as well be behind bars doesn’t matter what sunshine we are soaking up on the beach. For as long as we allow our circumstances to dictate our emotions we might as well throw away the key. That is what it really means to lose ones freedom. To be with plenty and and yet be without, and somehow still remain to be happy? Don’t believe me? Listen to the apostle Paul if you feel you need a higher authority on this subject.
I am not talking about shortage of money: I have learned to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength.Philippians 4:11-13
Breaking free from the real prison that you’ve been told is freedom is whats most important. Have you ever seen that movie “The Shawshank Redemption”?. Andy Dufrane decides he will escape prison. He’s an innocent man why should he hang around and waste time dying in there right? But you notice that he begins slowly to chip away at the wall in his cell. It takes years for him to break through the wall and make his escape. It’s clearly not some overnight project.
It is the same with the prison that we all belong to. Breaking free from this brainwashing the culture has overpowered us with from the minute we are born is no overnight project. It takes time and effort to chip away at the layer of concrete that the world has walled us in with. Real freedom is being happy like St.Paul no matter the circumstances. Real freedom is not being upset when someone insults you. True authentic freedom is loving and forgiving the worlds most hardened criminal and even being subject to living with him without fear.
Ah…it all seems so difficult right? Don’t listen to that. That is your programming kicking and screaming again. Whenever you begin to believe it’s impossible think of the stories of the uneducated Christians in the Colosseum (I say uneducated to prove this doesn’t take intelligence). There is this one account of a woman who was so full of ecstasy and the love of Christ, that she actually took the gladiators sword and gently guided it toward her throat. She was so far removed from the world that nothing, (not even death before a cheering crowd of 50 thousand prisoners of hatred) could have stolen her freedom.
What about the story of the monk falsely accused of raping and impregnating a local village girl? She blamed the monk and the whole village came to him. He said nothing to the accusations. They beat him and tortured him. When the baby was born they handed him the baby and said YOU take care of it. The monk smiled, took the baby and said absolutely nothing. A few months later the girl broke down in tears with guilt and told the truth. The whole village came back to apologise and take the baby. The monk just smiled, handed over the baby and said nothing.
All the while the monk was at peace. Nothing could disturb his peaceful prayer. . . Nothing. Can you imagine the freedom? If someone accused me and you of raping someone we would at least offer a defense. Our blood pressure would hit the roof and we’d be terrified at the thought of being wrongfully accused. Not this monk and certainly not Jesus. He offered no defense. But what about his anguish and sorrow of soul in the Garden of Gethsemene? True, even Jesus felt the effects of human nature even asking His Father to spare Him the outcome, but it was short lived, and his Divine nature soon overcame that.
You see, nobody is saying that you won’t ever feel upset. There are moments when the effects of your human nature may come as a shock, but when combined with the Love of God, it is short lived. Furthermore the sorrow of the world is very different to the sorrow of God. The former is self inflicting whereas the latter is liberating and mingled with a theological joy. The one is counterfeit and the other authentic. It’s the same with love and happiness. There is a counterfeit love sold by the world, and an authentic one given freely by Christ.
For every free gift Christ gives to us, the world will always have its for-profit counterfeit opposite. It may look similar but it’s not the same. I used to feel like that when my mum would buy me shoes from the dollar store that were knockoffs of Nike shoes. They looked the same but the Nike logo was missing and the material would fall apart a week later…NOT THE SAME. haha.
You think you’re free now? Come off it, you’re not free, you’re living life in a dark hole and you don’t even know it. What’s that you say? Can’t help but burst out in anger every time someone takes your parking space? You’re in prison. Can’t forgive your enemies? You’re in prison. Can’t be happy while in prison? You’re in prison. haha.
Prison is what you make it to be. You and your programming make it a prison nobody else. I can bring someone from the so called free world and stick’em behind bars and they wouldn’t see bars. There are people out there who can be taken from a life of wealth to poverty and not be phased about it at all. They’re happy. Such people are rare you say. Stop it! . . . stop putting up barricades to your freedom.
If someone told you they plan on boxing themselves into their homes with barbed wire you’d call them crazy. But that is exactly what you’re doing every time you say the freedom I speak of isn’t possible. Stop acting crazy. haha.
What do we do next? How do we GET Freedom? Haha! Freedom isn’t something you GET silly. That is like asking someone how do they get oxygen. You have it already…breath it in. You don’t do anything to get freedom and you don’t get what you already possess. The Kingdom of God is within you. It’s already there, but the layer of rubbish the world has taught you prevents you from enjoying it.
We find freedom by understanding our prison. When someone is planning his escape from a prison he finds the blueprint. He first has to spend time understanding what the prison is made of and where its weak points are. It’s no different to the prison we are in. We don’t get anywhere overnight. First, we must understand the prison we’ve either built for ourselves or been thrown into by the culture. If we do this, God will then provide an opening by His Grace. Who seeks shall find right? Right. Go get seeking and understanding then.
Where do I start? Prayer, Sacraments, and come back to this blog every now and again. Together we will help one another get out of this spiritual Alcatraz.
Like this post? Consider sharing it with all your cellmates on social media. 😉