Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I've got to tell you this upfront, I pretty much want to plagiarize this entire post. I don't think I can explain this concept better than Mark Steele did in his book flashBANG. I love books, and being a life long Christian who attended a private Christian school means I've read my fair share of Christian books, and this one is one of my favorites. I laugh every single time I read it, and more importantly, I learn something new every time. I mean, the book's secondary title is "How I Got Over Myself." It's like it was handwritten just for me! So, as soon as you can, I highly suggest going and picking up a copy for yourself. You won't regret it. But wait till you've finished reading me first! (See? I still have so far to go!)

The thing that always grabs me by the face and slaps me is his chapter called "The Effect of Cages", or "Hamster, Thou Art Loosed!" It is as wonderfully epic as the title would suggest, and flips so much of what we've been taught forever on its head. So answer me this, what's your first thought when you picture cages?

I picture this fantastic antique green cage we kept my bird Heathcliff in growing up. It's tiny. I couldn't imagine living in one. Some picture Christianity, what with all the rules and regulations in the Bible. I think that's probably why the Grace message is becoming so popular today. We want to stop being associated with the old man with a long beard sitting on a cloud, waiting to strike us with a lightning bolt the moment we mess up, and start being associate with the God who is the very definition of true, pure love.  So we're told from the youngest age to "Reach for the Stars!" "The Sky's the Limit" and "Get Out of Your Cage!" We're raised to believe that we, especially Americans, can and should have absolute freedom to go about and do whatever we feel like doing. We've gotten Women's Liberation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Sexual Revolution to clear the path for us to do whatever the Bleepedy Bleep we want. And in someways, that's wonderful!

It is about time that people are seen as equals. ALL PEOPLE. It's a good thing that sex is no longer this taboo subject that can't be talked about. I know that's hard for some of you to hear, but God obviously created it for a reason, and apparently He made it pretty fun. Unless He's a cruel God, which I don't believe, He thinks it's a good thing too. 

But the problem is, we're us. We screw EVERYTHING UP! We take these freedoms, and we stretch, bend, and break them to include freedoms that God never meant us to have. Not because He didn't think we couldn't handle them, that we would have our eyes opened to how "awesome" the World is away from Him, but because outside of the freedoms He's given us, there are consequences.  Did you know that SCIENCE is now saying that couples who live together before they're married or at least engaged are much more likely to get divorced? SCIENCE. We've been told forever that the reason God doesn't want us to "get our freak on," is because He's some odd control freak, and that living with a person is one of the best ways to know if you're compatible. Well, you've now been Scienced. (Any HIMYM fans?) Turns out, the Big Man had a reason for the whole wait till you're married thing. 

So what are we to do? Stay in our little Christian Bubble, safe and shiny? Nope. Not only is that impractical, it's selfish. We need to, to paraphrase Mr. Steele here, "live in both worlds. Spread our wings in one, while finding our source in the other. After all is said and done, we must return to our coverless cage, because even though our "free reign" is limited there, it's our home." 

You see, it's in embracing our cage, or parameters, that we find true freedom. "Following Jesus is irony. Always has been. Be last to be first. Give to receive. Be weak to be strong. Get in your cage to get out of it. Get under His freedom to get over yourself." We have to swallow our pride, and just simply get over ourselves. Take the freedom, that sweet, priceless freedom, and take it with us wherever we go.  Because that is where true freedom lies.

P.S. Just an added bit of goodness: "If you feel enslaved by Christianity, you are still trying to attain goodness instead of living in freedom by a radical, supernatural grace." A timely tweet from another Lauren.

I sincerely do want to thank all of you for reading and sharing my ramblings. This month alone I've gotten more 1,200 views, which is crazy, because this is me, and my total views are only slightly double that! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And for real, go and get Mark's book. He's much funnier and articulate than I am.

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