As I began discussing the other day, the people of God are a free people (see the beginning of this stream of thought: Shackled). We aren't bound by the rules and the difficulties that mire us down. If only we decide to see it that way.
This is all tied into our perceptions and how we see life. I think this is why I love movies like The Matrix or Wanted that start out telling the story about a person with one perception of life, that later comes to realize they're living a lie - that the truth about life is something much deeper. And when they find that truth - they're freed.
That's why living for God - living for Jesus - is freeing - he's freed us from all these things that complicate our lives. As I mentioned before, if I can be free from grumbling and complaining and dwelling on the things I don't like, I can be free from worry and stress; I can actually experience joy. (Though this process is going to be a bit more difficult than I first thought.)
When Jesus died he didn't give us a new law - the new testament isn't a new law; it's a new covenant - a binding agreement. A new law would only chain us down more (see the amazing letter Paul sent to the followers of Jesus in Galatia). Paul said that law cannot free us - it can only enslave us. The whole point of all the things Paul, Jesus, and the other apostles say is not to give us a new list of rules to follow - it's the opposite - to take away all the rules. We don't have any rules to follow. We have all these ways Jesus tells us to live - but they're not rules, they're things that help us have better lives.
We chain ourselves - God has given us the keys to our own freedom - and we stand here and hold them, not even realizing it. It's living for Jesus, learning about Him, loving Him, that helps us to realize that connection. It's living for Him that helps us unlock the chains.
All rules do is chain and control - rules are about control. I think that those who say we do have rules, and make their religion about catologuing those rules, want to control. They don't want to lose that control; they don't want to open themselves to God; give that control up to God.
Just because we don't have rules - does that mean we have license to do what we want? I'm sure people will read this and thinks that's what I'm saying - if we don't have rules we can live however we want to live. But Paul answered this same question when he wrote his letter to the believers in Rome. Should we do whatever we want because we don't have any rules? No! We do these things not because we have to but out of our love for God and what he's done for us. As soon as we start doing them because we have to or out some sort of obligation, we take our heart out of it and are once again enslaved by the law. That's why Paul wrote his letter to those in Galatia in the first place. He asked them if what God started, they thought they could finish by their own efforts.
The devil doesn't want us to open our eyes and see this - that we can truly be freed by God. He wants us to keep our eyes closed, shuffling along in our little lives, complaining about the little things that bother us, stressing about the other things. He doesn't want our eyes and our hearts open to the joy that God can bring. If we can stay focused on being slaves to some rules, being shallow and judgmental - missing the bigger pictures of love and joy, he can keep us under control and keep us chained. As long as we don't see what the truth is we're kept under control. "The Matrix has you."
Sometimes the difficulty and pain and sacrifice tears us from our own lives and opens our eyes. Showing us that the really difficult things - putting ourselves last, loving others, truly putting God first in our lives - are really what God wants for us and what really free us (I want go in more detail here, but have before, talking about what God really wants). I think that's why these movies speak to me - they are allegory for us keeping our eyes shut to the reality of life. The process it takes for us to be yanked out of our reverie to see the truth can be painful.
As these movies show, it's our own misperceptions that keep us chained. It's these illusions that keep us shackled. Handcuffed to the cardboard box. They keep our eyes closed to the real world around us. Keep us believing that we're ordinary and pathetic.
There's a character in Wanted - The Repairman - he fixes bad habits. I seem him as the metaphor for the pain we sometimes experience when we open our eyes and see reality for what it is, and how difficult it is to tear ourselves from the chained lives we live - to begin to live truly free lives.
I'm sorry - I had to get all this stuff out of my brain. Last weekend we went to a memorial service for my Grandma who died last week. And we took my Dad to Wanted to get his mind off things (it was his Mom). Plus, I finished The Shack a couple weeks ago. I've been doing a lot of heavy thinking over the last few days...