The wonderful and always worth listening to MockingCast had a recent episode that in part highlighted why the Gospel message is one of freedom. One of the co-hosts, RJ, stated that if you believe that people are in bondage then you will preach liberation and if you believe that people are free you will preach bondage.
Sit with this little insight for a moment. Consider the Container Store. It is an entire store profiting on the idea that you and I are so free in our lives that we are willing to pay for some plastic containers that can bind up our cabinets and closets. We pay for calendars and schedules that bind us to our commitments and responsibilities. How many diets are preached that are built around binding you from eating certain things? In a land of plenty of food where we are free to eat whatever and whenever we want, we do not know how to handle it. So we pay for some binding. Sometimes freedom is so open that we are prone to wander, prone to leave that which we love.
The gospel of binding is all around us because we are under the impression that we are too free.
This bleeds into church messages. Often churches will craft messages in ways that assume that people are too free and what people need is to be bound up. They need to be bound in what to believe. Bound to follow laws or rules. Bound to action and inaction. If our messages are help bind people, it could be that we believe that people are too free.
Conversely, if we craft messages that are meant to liberate people it is because it is assumed that people are not free at all. Jesus preaches and teaches in such a way that assumes that people are bound and they need liberation. He does not give more rules to follow - in fact he speaks of only two. He preaches release of the captives and the year of the Lord’s favor. Jesus preaches and teaches one of liberation because he knows the people are too bound. But it not just humans that are too bound. When given the choice to liberate or bind the demons living in a man in Mark 5, Jesus liberates the demons to go into the swine. Jesus saw that even the demons were bound and needed liberation, and so he extends mercy to allow them to enter into the swine.
This does not mean Jesus’ message is without binding. Far from it. In the moment of glory, Jesus allows himself to handed over to a people who believed he was too free, and they tried to silence him by binding him to the cross.
If we believe that people are bound then we will preach liberation. When we preach liberation, the powers and principality that are dependent upon our bondage will come for us. These powers will seek to discredit, shame, bind and even kill the one who assumes that people are in bondage.
No wonder so many of us would rather wave flags and banners proclaiming how free we all are. In our chants of freedom we are blind to the ways we are in bondage. In our assumptions that people are free our messages become binding and restrictive.
In a bit of tragic irony, when we assume people are free, we have liberated ourselves from receiving the True freedom that comes from God in Christ. And we remain in bondage, assuming we are free.