Freedom from Freedom: Theological Freedom (Part 2 – Does everybody want to be God?)

As we mentioned last post, Jesus Christ wants you to be His slave. Do you like that? Or do you dislike that? Why?

 

We’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s get to the meat of this post.

 

Everybody wants to be God…or do they?

Christians believe and teach this: Everybody has, as part of their sinful nature, a desire to be like God. We want to be God.

However, if you walk up to an atheist or an agnostic and you say “You, sir, want to be God!” then they will say “No, I don’t.” And then the appropriate response is “Yes, you do,” followed by “no, I don’t.”

Now, for us in the first place to make assumptions as to what is in someone else’s head is the height of arrogance, and one of the fastest ways to lose any sort of credibility in the topic we are teaching about. When Liberals say “Conservatives think blah blah blah” and when Conservatives say “Liberals think blah blah blah,” they lose their ability to persuade. Words like these only incite people who already agree with them anyway.

However, if God says it, that is a different story. Because…

Prov 15:11 (NLT)

Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the LORD. How much more does he know the human heart!

And even if someone is not a Christian…I personally don’t know anyone who believes in God, but doesn’t believe that God is all-knowing.

So let’s go back to the scenario with the unthinking, tactless Christian and the Atheist.

Christian says “You want to be God!” The Atheist says “No, I don’t!” How can this be? As I see it, the following are the only options.

  1. The Atheist is lying.
  2. The Christian knows God said it, but God is wrong (not likely. Again, if God exists, then it’s safe to assume He is all-knowing.)
  3. The Christian thinks God said it, but God didn’t (This actually happens a lot).
  4. The Atheist does want to be God, but he doesn’t think he does. He misunderstands what the Christian is saying. (Which I blame on the Christian for not explaining his point)

 

And personally, I believe the answer is option D, although I do need to explore option C for a little bit.

 

Did God really say that everyone wants to be God?

For you Bible nerds out there who like long words that no one would ever use except for Bible scholars, we get to jump into some hamartiology (the study of sin) for a little bit.

Scripturally, I know of no time where God all out says “Every single one of you wants to be God.” So here’s where we get this idea from.

  1. Eve, when she went for the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (when sin first entered humanity, Genesis chapter 3). One of the primary temptations was the desire to become like God. The serpent (Satan) repeated what God had already told her, but Scripture also tells us that the desire to become like God was part of the equation for her.
  2. The following Scripture is written for the King of Babylon during the time of Isaiah, but many Christians believe it to be talking about Satan himself.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (NIV)

How you have fallen from heaven,

O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth,

you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne

above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.”
Christians believe that Satan tempts us to sin.

(Side-tangent: I believe that this can be true, sometimes, but it’s not something to be dwelt upon. Usually, I am perfectly capable of messing up all on my own, with no help from Satan. I also believe that Satan is not omni-present, and therefore he can only be in one place at once. So, he’s not going to be tempting me and then tempting someone else at the same time. Now, he’s got spiritual forces that do his bidding, however, He who is in me, Jesus Christ, is greater that Satan Himself. So how much more true with Satan’s workforce? The end point: When I mess up, there is no one to blame but myself.)

If Satan tempts us to sin, and if this is what motivates our sinful side, then one might assume that our sinful side wants this for ourselves. If Satan wants to be God, then our sinful side wants to be God.

  1. c) Throughout history, the desire to be worshipped like God has been seen. Consider Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. Consider the Roman emperors. And man, am I only naming a few.
  2. d) There is an interesting word in Hebrew to watch out for…the word “Hillel”. Hillel means to exalt, to lift up. The word Hillel always appears in a negative context when talking about people or idols, but it has two positive contexts. 1) Exalting God (Consider “Hallelujah”, “Hallel” exalt, “lu” = a suffix meaning that the subject is “we”, and “jah” = short for Yahweh ,God’s covenant name. “Hallelujah” means “We exalt Yahweh.”), and 2) When God “hillels”/lifts up/exalts people who serve Him.

So the Old Testament sets itself against those who exalt themselves, but praises those who exalt God, promising that God will also exalt them.

 

So this is another area where although God doesn’t explicitly say that every single person wants to be like God, it certainly seems strongly implied that this desire is a notable component of the sinful nature.

 

So why do I think the answer is D?

 

The Atheist, the Agnostic, and by the way, the Christian, too, all have a desire to be God. But they often fail to identify it. Observe:

 

Tactless Christian: “You want to be God!”

Atheist/Agnostic: “No, I don’t. I’m not really interested in controlling what’s going on in someone else’s life or being everywhere at once or any of that stuff that I think God does. I mainly just want to be in control of my own life and make my own decisions about what is right and what is wrong.

 

We desire, as individuals and as a collective society, to be the masters of our own destiny. Most of us do not want to be everybody else’s God…(although a few throughout history, and a few today, do.) We mainly want to be our own God, and be in charge of our own lives.

 

In fact, if you aren’t a Christian, I suspect that you aren’t too offended by my words right now. I suspect that you are thinking, “Yes. That’s exactly what I want.” Am I right? Am I wrong?

 

If you are a Christian, however, I suspect that you are struggling. You desire to be God, but you know you aren’t supposed to. Either that, or you love the idea of God as presented to you, but the idea of Him calling you to let go of the wheel is pretty unnerving, and rather arrogant of Him.

 

God is calling you to give up your freedom and be His slave. Is that desirable or undesirable to you?

Freedom from Freedom: Relational Freedom (Part 3 – Compromise)

So let’s wrap up this “relational freedom” part with a simple string of statements.

  1. If many things are important to you, then you are a stressful person.
  2. If you choose wisely what things shall be important to you and what things won’t be important to you, you will stress others (and yourself) out less.
  3. Therefore, the more you are willing to let things NOT go your way, the easier your social life will be. The easier your relationships will be. And the more people will enjoy hanging out with you.

 

And here we arrive at the art of compromise…an art that is a MUST in any successful relationship, marriage, friendship, family relationship, etc.

 

Now, before we move on, I want to add a few points here…

  1. Everybody has SOMETHING that is important to them. We aren’t talking about giving everything up, ever.
  2. Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek, and that it is okay to let ourselves be wronged. However, an honest evaluation of how Christlike we ARE is in order…not an evaluation of how Christlike we SHOULD BE. We SHOULD, as Christians, be willing to let ourselves be wronged and not to keep a record of wrongs (because that is how Jesus is). But, we aren’t there yet. To ignore that fact in a marriage, or any relationship, is naïve.

 

Remember: If one is taking, then one is giving.

So this is where we reintroduce our “Freedom from Freedom” thesis…one finds their freedom when they go the exact opposite direction of freedom. One loses their freedom when they pursue their freedom.

I believe that this is true in human relationships, especially on the topic of “roommates” of any type (Including spouse and family!)

 

For example, let’s analyze Sarah and myself.

Example 1 – Household cleanliness

Sarah: Wants the freedom to have a clean and orderly house.

Carson: Wants the freedom to drop his controllers and socks wherever he wants at any given moment.

Applying the freedom from freedom concept: If Sarah’s freedom is realized, Carson loses his freedom. If Carson’s freedom is realized, Sarah loses her freedom. It is impossible for both of us to have what we want.

Solution: Carson has bucket for his controllers within close access to couch. If Carson leaves socks around, he receives a gentle reminder (death threat) that they should go away (Just kidding about the death threat). Sarah lets the house get a little messy, but not too messy that she can’t stand it.

 

Example 2 – Money

Carson: By nature, a spender of money. Wants everything ever. Wants XboxOne, PS4, a Microsoft Surface, a bunch of games. Also wants to travel to every ATA (American Taekwondo Association) event ever. Left to himself, would live in a fantasy dreamworld in which money actually does grow on trees (this dreamworld is found on the highway about two miles north of Bankruptcy).

Sarah: By nature, a saver of money. Always looking to cut down costs, expenses, etc. Frequently asks questions like “Do we really need to buy ______ this month?” These questions will be asked regardless of how much money we make on any given month.

Freedom from freedom concept applied: If Sarah let me be free to do what I want, she would feel “panicked”, and rightfully so. If everything went the way Sarah wanted it to, I would feel “trapped.”

Solution: Sarah lets Carson have his Xbox One and a few games. Also lets him have Gamefly membership so that he doesn’t constantly desire to buy every new game. Carson gives up a few things, makes sure that he always has a mental grip on the finances, and makes sure that emergency fund is where Sarah wants it to be (within reason).

 

Example 3 – Time

Carson: Likes free time and alone time. If had his own way, he would play video games and type at coffee shops all day, and then would spend “leftover” time with Sarah. (Yes, I know. Not a good policy for marriage.)

Sarah: Likes quality one on one time. Self-admittedly would never get enough Carson time (Not because I’m so great but because quality time is so important to Sarah).

Freedom from freedom concept applied: Whenever one of these two “needs” is out of balance, the other person starts subconsciously pulling back. If I spend a whole day alone just dinking around with my hobbies, Sarah starts to project to me a really “needy” vibe, because she does actually NEED time with me. If I spend all day with Sarah, I start to become this empty brain shell until I get some alone time.

Solution: Still learning this one.

However, I have found that if I take the initiative to give Sarah quality time, she is MORE than happy to let me veg out for a while. Sarah has also found this to be true with me…if she gives me alone time, I will be more than happy to give quality time back.

 

In summary, the word “compromise” might sound like a word that involves giving something up…but it’s amazing how much you gain by giving something up.

Freedom from Freedom: Relational Freedom (Part 2 – Stress)

At some point in your life, if you are old enough to actually be interested in sitting down and reading a blog, you remember one or both of these experiences, probably both.

  1. Going to some grouping of people (school, youth group, activity), hoping to make new friends.
  2. Going to some grouping of people (school, youth group, activity) hoping to make new friends with attractive people of the opposite sex who could possibly become a romantic interest.

Now, my nerdy brain has been overanalyzing these situations for years, and I have learned a lot, though I have much, much more to learn. But back in middle school, high school, starting college, etc., I didn’t really have any idea of what I was looking for. My guess is that most of us had no idea what we were looking for.

 

But as time went on, most of us learned, even if we didn’t know we were learning. We quickly learned that some people were easy to get along with, and some people were hard to get along with.

 

Now, going back, does anybody really desire to be grouped into the “hard to get along with” category? Or do we all wish that we were easy to get along with?

 

Can that be done? Can we become people who are easy to get along with? I believe that we can. In fact, I believe that becoming someone who is easy to get along with ties in perfectly to our “Freedom from Freedom” thesis. Those who seek freedom lose it. Those who give up freedom find it.

 

“Basement” vs. “Balcony” people

 

Sarah (my wife) was taught this: There are basement people and there are balcony people. Balcony people lift you up. Basement people drag you down.

Perhaps this idea can be simplified into the following: there are positive people and negative people. There are people that add to your life and your enjoyment of it, and there are people who cost emotional energy, who take away from your life.

Many of us will be taught to put positive people in our lives and to avoid negative people. I think that, if somebody wants a happy, peaceful life, this is great advice. However, I believe that if somebody is a Christ-follower, this is self-centered advice. But I will get there with a post-script. For now, let us keep our focus here: “Am I somebody that people want to be around, or am I someone that people want to avoid?”

 

People want to avoid basement people, but be around balcony people.

People want to avoid negative people, but be around positive people.

And let’s reword this concept one more time…people want to avoid people that stress them out, but be around people who take stress away.

 

Thus, I believe that the answer to this question (Am I somebody that people want to be around?) can be found in an analysis of “stress”.

 

The magic formula for stress…

Stress happens when two things are true:

  1. Something is important to you.
  2. Either things are not going your way, or you are not sure things are going to go your way.

That is it. If you have those two elements, you have stress. If either one of those are not true, you have no stress.

 

Therefore, the magic formula for de-stress…

  1. Have things go your way, or…
  2. Have something not be important to you.

 

Now, if nothing stresses you out, then that means…

  1. Either everything is going your way, or…
  2. Nothing is important to you.

 

But now, let’s finish talking about ourselves and start talking about how we affect others. Very rarely does stress happen in a bubble…when we are stressed, we stress out other people. And who wants to be around someone that stresses them out?

Now, looking at all the above “rules of two” on the topic of stress, I think it is safe to dismiss the first one: Nothing always goes right for someone. So whether someone is stressful or not has to be tied into how important things are for that person.

 

THE MAIN POINT: The more things that are IMPORTANT to you, the more stressful you are as a person.

Now, if NOTHING is important to you, then you are a depressed, sad individual who will never accomplish anything in life. But chances are, that isn’t you. Many of us have things that aren’t important to us that should be important…but I think it’s safe to say that ALL of us hold certain things as important that aren’t really that important.

 

In order to find out what is important to us, we simply ask this question: What do we get mad about?

I am going to present some scenarios. In each scenario, answer these one or two questions: A) Do you get upset? B) What is so important to you that you would get mad over it?

  1. Someone scratches your car, accidentally.
  2. Someone scratches your car, deliberately.
  3. Your wife walks in front of you during a heated moment of Titanfall or CoD. When she passes…you are watching your opponent’s killcam of yourself.
  4. Your shirt gets stained.
  5. A random passer-by insults you.
  6. Your mother or father insult you.
  7. Westboro Baptist Church is prancing about with their “God Hates Fags” signs again.
  8. You get a speeding ticket.
  9. Somebody is talking about your friend behind your back.
  10. You come home, and the house is a mess.
  11. Your child dropped your phone in the toilet.
  12. Your child lied to you about who ate the last starburst.
  13. Your child lied to you about what happened at school that day.
  14. Somebody told a lie to your girlfriend or boyfriend about you.
  15. Somebody told your girlfriend or boyfriend about a mistake you made. (A true one, not a lie)

 

Some of you would get upset in all these instances. Some of you would get upset in just a few. But here are the final two questions for this post, before we move on…

  1. What did you find out about what things are important to you?
  2. How many things are important to you?

 

Continued next post…