Institutionalized.

After all these years, I’ve finally gotten around to watching The Shawshank Redemption.
A little behind the times, I know…16 years after its release, I think.
To be fair, I was 11, and the whole thing would have been lost on me.

Of course, there has been so much time that has passed that I could have easily seen it in recent years.
For some reason, I’d just never really had the desire to watch it.
Maybe I thought it would be boring.

Or maybe I just wasn’t quite ready for what I would learn.

From the moment we first see Andy Dufresne on the witness stand, I was completely mesmerized by the film.
I was curious how his innocence would be discovered and he would be released.
Apparently freedom is more complex than that.

The main idea that really set my mind running was the effects of institutionalization.
And our own inability to enjoy true freedom when it is offered to us.

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
.

Galatians 5:1

I guess the question to ask is “slavery to what?”

Sins?
Rules?
Creeds?
Liturgies?
Denominations?

Even in the early church, the people had to be admonished to let go of these things!
In today’s church, I believe it is becoming more and more evident that we also need to let go of these things.

“You can’t do this.”
“You can’t say that.”
“What this means is [fill in the blank]…”
“What you have to do is [fill in the blank]…”

We’re told so often, and from an early age what we should do, how things should be done, when they should be completed.
Almost to a point where our lives are no longer our own.
We allow our beliefs to be dictated to us in such a way that perhaps, they are not even our own.
We belong to institutions.

And they have a tendency (or at least the potential) to negatively impact us to some degree.
We need to be broken free of such bondage.
Jesus is our Freedom.

I’m not saying that Jesus will always give us freedom from difficulties, hardships, or institutions.
I do believe that He will always give us freedom in context of such things.

What I don’t understand is our lack of joy found in this freedom.
Or maybe that’s the wrong way to put it.
I’m almost sure we would find joy in that kind of freedom.

What I don’t understand is how we fail to live in freedom?
What I don’t understand is how we let institutions own us?

But I have a pretty good idea…

Somewhere along the way, the Jesus that gives us freedom and whose Spirit indwells us was de-throned.
And these things that seemingly hold us captive, don’t hold us captive at all.
We choose to lift these things above Christ.

We long for freedom.
But Freedom has already come.
We just don’t know how to fully grasp Him.

What institution is holding you back from experiencing the fullness of Christ’s freedom?

Mine is probably responsibilities.

Oh yeah, by the way, I forgot to mention that these “institutions” don’t necessarily have to be intrinsically bad things.
It is important not to forget that even good things such as relationships, jobs, and even church can hold us back from the Freedom of Christ if we place those things above Him…

Peace and Love.

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One thought on “Institutionalized.

  1. Oh man, you are so right on. I have gone through a crisis lately. There is this perception here that if you aren’t involved in every activity at church that you aren’t being a good Christian and doing your Christian duty. Church attendance is equated with a relationship with Christ. I couldn’t disagree more. For me, personally, the activities I was involved in at church did overshadow my relationship. I had to give them up and get away for a while. I have to learn to participate in moderation, making sure that Jesus is the first and foremost priority. The problem is, while I feel that my relationship with Christ has been strengthened, others around me see it as a pulling away from Him because I’m pulling away from activities. While works are the outward personification of faith, faith is not cultivated by works. I can’t be the only one that believes this.

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