Paul states in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Do you want to be free? Are you willing to pay the price to be free? The path to freedom isn’t free, as a matter of fact, it’s very costly. There’s a risk. It takes courage and a determined mind. We all want to be free, to experience life, to be ourselves, to explore, and to be all that we can possibly be, but many fail in this pursuit. Why? It’s because we’re so concerned about what other people think and say that we fall short in being who God made us to be. We only experience freedom when we can truly say that we are being our authentic self.
For many years, I too, bought into the lie of spiritual conformity. I was a pastor for 16 years in a conservative, evangelical church. My church members and the denomination, with which I was affiliated with, had this image of how a preacher should look and act.
A suit on Sunday (which I didn’t mind, but when I didn’t wear one I got the looks)
Alway optimistic (as if preachers are immune to pain and problems)
No drinking (at least not in public)
No cussing (it was permissible for church members, elders and deacons, but not the preacher. This was taboo.)
Don’t teach anything that violates the core teachings of that fellowship.
While in ministry, I experienced God’s presence in some powerful ways. I’ve lead many souls to Christ, prayed for sinners, seen miracles, and have been spiritually encouraged and empowered by my christian brothers and sisters, but I’ve also been miserable.
Unfortunately, I got sucked into the pattern and paranoia of church orthodoxy. Once I started to ask questions and actually study for myself, I started seeing the bondage that I was in. I know this sound bizarre coming from a minster, but it’s true. Many pastors are so busy with ministerial duties that they don’t study to learn, but to build sermons. There’s a huge difference and those of you who are in ministry know what I’m talking about.
Do you want freedom? Are you willing to ask questions?
Questioning the status quo is disruptive to the edifice of pattern theology, but is redemptive to the one in bondage to it. Mark Twain said, “It’s not what a man doesn’t know that’s the problem. It’s what he thinks he knows that is in fact not true.” There’s a lot of self appointed scholars in the church, whose scholarship isn’t predicated upon academic or independent study, but on tradition.
For me, freedom came with a huge penalty or perhaps a prize. I could no longer toe the line of established orthodoxy. The chains of bondage were coming off. My legalism and desire to be right were no longer important to me. Rather than debate and convince you, I was interested in inviting you to the table to talk, to learn and to love you and your path to God. My questions led me to other questions which led to me other questions and so the story goes.
My quest for freedom came with a cost. Most churches (my fellowship), don’t have anything to do with me anymore. The scouting report is out. Be careful. Be cautious. I don’t get invited to speak any more, the phone calls have stopped and my brothers and sisters in christ who once celebrated my anointing, have fled.
But, I’m not alone. Just as Paul states in Galatians 5, you have to stand firm. I stand because I know deep down in my heart that there is more to God. My heart is open and my mind is eager. God has allowed me to meet certain people who understand and acknowledge the impulse in my heart. They not only understand where I’m coming from, but affirm me and encourage me to go deeper in my voyage to understand God.
What’s the prize?
I discovered that I’m not alone!
Stand Firm and BE FREE!!