Sunday, January 21, 2007
Captive, Caged, Trained, Free
"Hey, man, are you down for tradition?"
"Yes. Where are we going?" They've instituted a diet that precludes Killer Shrimp. Besides, Deb has said that she wanted to go somewhere else, somewhere new.
"Killer Shrimp! Yeah, man, that's what she wants." We laughed.
When we got to the restaurant Nate talked about how he has been thinking about "holding every thought captive to Christ." We talked about it. It's interesting how parts of the Bible take on different meanings when removed from their context.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
2d Corinthians 10:4-6 NIV
I could write a book on taking thought captive. The results have been good in some cases, disastrous in many others. Talking about taking thought captive makes me nervous because of this quote: It's something I'm supposed to do, but I've seen the results of misapplication in my life and in the lives of others.
Are thoughts to be caged, never to move again? Trained never to look beyond the barred confines? Excursions from the cage are punished. Eventually you get to the point where the cage can be removed and the well-trained mind doesn't even notice. How does this fit with "When Jesus makes you free you will be free indeed?"
I do recognize the need for guidance and some discipline. There's a big difference between a heap of random sand and a sand sculpture, and lack of discipline in engineering will soon turn the latter into the former.
How is this supposed to work? Going from my experience it seems that what happens is guided freedom. Grapevines grow on guide wires. Growth comes from the vine and sunlight, with the wires provided as a place for the vine to grow. In that case it's mainly for the convenience of those who would gather the grapes. Human growth is a different kind of thing, very complex, and the guide wires are invisible and can be ignored. I think my thoughts twine with those of Jesus, shaped as I allow by the Holy Spirit in a growing braid.
I have replaced God's plan for my life with my own ideas and practices. I've enforced these ideas brutally and turned God's garden into a desert. I don't know much about growing. I know that cages don't work, that training tends to turn into dictatorship and that captives tend to just give up and die. Learned helplessness.
How do I resist the maker of the Universe? It's built into His nature. If I really want to walk alone he will allow this but I'll be missing His guidance, his sturdy wires that allow me to grow and spread. If I want to. Growth is frightening to someone who has been mostly dead. It's new, confusing, and can't be learned as a captive.
History holds us all. Familiar paths calling our tired feet. I accept this phony rest, an easy walk in a dead land. I suspect that if I could really see what God intends the path would be much more attractive. God wants just one step at a time, even if taken while not looking more than about a foot in front of my toes. He'll handle the guidance, for now anyway.
God provides structure, strength to resist both the pull of the past and howling winds of present confusion. His structure is mysterious and kind, just about the opposite of what we've been taught.
I am Jesus' captive. I'm very glad I'm his captive, and no longer captive to my ideas of who Jesus is. It takes a long time to learn the difference in the real world of emotional experience.