How to stop being a self-imprisoned Christian

2 Samuel 6, Daniel 3
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selfimprisonment

The key is already in the door. Why are you still in there?

Knowing Jesus should be a liberating experience.

Yet many live in a state of anxiety or in a squalor from past sin or false expectations. If you’re familiar with MacBeth, you might recall Lady MacBeth’s state of madness and her insistence upon constantly washing her hands of the imaginary blood despite being absolved of murder.

This type of self-imprisonment, under the law of grace, is insane. It squelches you, and it sucks you dry. It leaves you longing for something more — and, in response, we hopscotch churches and doctrines to find that one thing that will finally satisfy us.

How do I know this? Because I believe, for much of my Christian life, I’ve been very concerned with how I’m behaving. For far too long, I’ve victimized myself and become a slave to “doing the right thing.”

I’ve written on behavior several times now, often discussing how focused the Christian culture is on our ability to walk the line, and how this attitude becomes a stumbling block to many believers because perfection is impossible.

In the Bible, we are commanded to walk circumspectly, to demonstrate our love for Christ in obedience, to take every thought captive, to die to ourselves daily.  And we should — how else are we supposed to set ourselves apart, to be that city on a hill as described in the gospel of Matthew?

Yet I see two examples of reckless living, among others, in the reading today. And when I say reckless, I’m not talking about acting like a jerk and not watching your step. There are way too many Christians that look like that right now, which explains why some churches and leaders have inflated alliances. Instead, it’s almost like we collectively have sandbags on our shoes to keep us from dancing. It shouldn’t be like that.

Undignified

David, still wearing his royalty training pants, has one of his men get dropped by God for touching the ark of the covenant, which is basically a representative conveyance of the Lord’s presence.  David gets rather discouraged, as anyone who witnesses a smiting might be, and grows to fear God to a point of despising Him.

But something happens thereafter that changes the way we’ve looked at reverentially worshiping God.  Rather than reserved, liturgical offerings, David publicly dances for the Lord in a ridiculous manner while wearing religious garb, drawing both criticism and praise from onlookers.

Righteous defiance

Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego (quite possibly Israel’s version of Emerson, Lake and Palmer) are moments away from being thrown into a giant furnace for blatantly defying the king’s decree to worship a gaudy monument. With death on the horizon and the king looking into their eyes, the trio doesn’t back down — instead, they insist that their Lord is going to come through.

As the story goes, Nebuchadnezzar throws them into the flames, only to discover they have been preserved (with a mysterious fourth man accompanying them).

Anyone would have been apprehensive — I imagine that these guys, deep down inside, are terrified — but, like David, they demonstrate a remarkable lack of restraint.

The revolution of the self

Christian, why do you hesitate? Are you afraid of what someone is going to think about you? Are you worried about the possibility of failing? Will the Lord somehow frown upon what you’re doing if it’s “all out”, as if being the best version of the person He created is contrary to His character?

If you know Jesus, be liberated.  The old self is gone; the new self is here. Isn’t that worth celebrating? There is freedom in His grace.  You are no longer in bondage — shake off those chains, and let’s live like we’re free.

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