Open and Free {#31 Days}

Presidential debates will mess with your mind. You’re listening with one ear open to what you want to hear; the other closed up tight, like a house protected with barred-windows. We all enter the debate with a commitment to stay in our political safe place. It’s not an atmosphere of open-mindedness.

You know how it is, we plop ourselves on the couch, drink in hand, and send a challenge to the candidates, “Tell me what I want to hear.”

The only other place less open-minded is religion. When it comes to matters of our faith, we don’t just bar the windows, we moat the castle. Once we know what we know we don’t want anyone telling us we’ve got holes in our buckets. Instead of addressing the source of the dripping water, we declare it a fountain. No place is it more dangerous than in matters of religion to hold tightly to answers for the wrong questions.

The Jews  in John chapter eight have done just this. They’ve already made up their minds about Jesus. Any evidence pointing to Jesus as more than just a social menace is received with fingers in the ear and a chorus of “la, la, la, la, laaaa.” They can’t bear his challenge to their certainties.

They defended their right to closed-mindeness with “Abraham is our father!” An answer 2,000 years old and only half right. In fact they were descendants of Abraham, but spiritually they bore no resemblance to their forefather. Instead of a willingness to listen to the voice of God and to act with faith toward his promises, their ears were shut and their hope was gathering dust in a history book rather than looking on the horizon for the promised Son who would bless all nations (Gen. 12:2-3). Ironically, they considered themselves friends of God, but couldn’t recognize him when he stood before them. They had eyes that could not see, and ears that could not hear, despite their fancy ancestry. Abraham’s rejoicing had become his descendant’s time of weeping.

Jesus’ challenge to the Jews is not much different than it is to us. Are we committed more to our thoughts and ideas about Jesus  or to Jesus himself? Jesus challenged the Jews to surrender regulation for relationship. But they couldn’t hear him rightly through their closed minds and hardened hearts.

And this past Sunday we very well may have sat to hear a teaching about Jesus, but in our hearts we were declaring, “Hey Preacher Man {or Woman}, Tell me what I want to hear!”

I do this in so many ways. Sometimes by reading authors I know I already agree with. Other times by hanging out with the people who I believe look and think most like I do. Being partial to bloggers who confirm my ideas and well, who like me. I confess I’m tempted to tune out or duck away from a challenge to me or my ideas. It’s a small way to live.

When we welcome Jesus, we welcome reality. Little by little, we become free…The truth then is not something to make us feel superior. On the contrary, it calls us into humility, to littleness and to the light of love. All the light in us comes from the light of the Word of God. the light of truth, then, is the gentle marriage of what we see and experience, with what we have received from above and the Word of God, each one enlightening the other, each one calling us to live in god and to see things through the loving eyes and loving heart of God. ~J. Vanier {Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus in the Gospel of John}

Some of our answers are 2,000 years old. They need challenging. They lack the presence of Jesus and his truth. Our closed-mindedness has us imprisoned.

Love gives up its right to be right. It makes room. Never has love said, “It’s too crowded here for you.” Love stays open. Mind, heart, ears–all wide open. It’s free that way. It’s not protecting its own ideas, keeping self tucked in, shutting others out.

Jesus says, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word…Whoever is from God hears the words of God” (John 8:42-43, 47). 

We have a choice today: Open or closed? Hearing or already knowing? ‘Rightness’ or relationship? The choice is ours. Only one answer brings freedom.

Be free. Free indeed.

This month I’m participating with The Nester in her 31 Days challenge to write every day on a topic of choice. I’m writing this month on how Jesus make us free. Because without him, we’re just a hot mess of a captive. I’m also linking today with Word-filled Wednesday at Internet Cafe Devotions.

7 thoughts on “Open and Free {#31 Days}

  1. Open minded religion?! People will lose their minds! How dare you say we haven’t figured it all out!!!! I love this post!

    • Thanks. Well, it’s hard to develop the mind of Christ when we’ve already made up our own. A little mind-losing could serve us all well. All I know is that I don’t have it all figured out. 🙂 We’ve got to keep seeking, huh? Scary when we think truth is something we possess rather than something that owns us.

  2. Thanks, Brenda! Beautifully put and right on the money! …or did I just know you would feel that way and visit to feel validated? Nuts! Now I’m second guessing! Really, it is hard to tolerate the Aggravated Bible Battery perpetrated by many church-goers who have no more Jesus in them than … well, than I did when I was bashing people with my understanding of the Gospel from my self-righteous soapbox. God bless you, your family, and your talented ministry of sharing God’s grace through writing!

    • Amen and Amen! I think we’ve probably all had a foot in the “know it all” camp at one time or another. I’m thankful for God’s grace that has me in a place now where I am loved and accepted by him, even when I don’t know…it’s so much easier to extend grace when one actually has need of it. Thanks for your visit. God bless you as you continue to follow after Jesus.

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