July 4th Musing: Comparing self-determined and God-determined living

Today, Monday July 4th, 2011 is Independence Day, a day of celebration of the birth of the United States of America. It was on this day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was sign. It is that document that sets forth the guiding principles of the United States.  The document set forth the principles of freedom that this country was built.  Yes, this country has freedom and self-determination. Today many folks talk about the cost of freedom, that it comes with a price. Certainly the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave their all in support of the concept of freedom proclaimed in that document. However, this article is not about extolling the virtues and cost of the founding principles of this country but rather examine the principles in comparison to God’s Kingdom principles.

The principles at the core of the Declaration was that  people have a choice and are free to set their course.  These principles are summed up with the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  In other words, people are free to determine there course including the government they are willing to submit. People are free to make there choice in all areas of life.  They are free to choose their path in life.

The Kingdom of God does not operate on principles of self-determining a path in life. Yes, we have choice but the key element of the Kingdom of God is this “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (ESV).  The Kingdom of God is about self-surrender which brings true life. There is much in this world that can be pursued but the only real life, is life in proper relationship with God. It is leaving the world of self-determined choices and surrendering to following God’s leading and God’s way. It is a move from self-determination to God-determination.

The Kingdom of God view of liberty is also different than that of the concept in the Declaration of Independence. The liberty referenced is that of freedom to do whatever one desires as long as it does not interfere with others.  It is freedom from not only oppression but restriction of own desires.  The Kingdom of God principle of liberty is quite different. The Kingdom of God liberty is about freedom from the bondage to sin and self.  It is freedom from the consequences of our selfishness.  Each of us makes choices each day. There are many choices that move away from God and give a momentary pay off that leave one bound and oppressed.  Yet, God offers freedom to all who will take it, but it means surrendering God’s authority. When you do so, freedom from all those choices of the moment is granted and relationship with the Creator is secured. 

The Declaration of Independence indicates that the ultimate goal of all is the “pursuit of happiness.” In  other words, we are to be free to take a path that makes us feel good. It is pursuit of overall well being. It is a pursuit of that which is pleasing.  In the Kingdom of God, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 which offers a different take than that which makes us feel good or pleases us.  Rather, it stands in contrast with brokenness, mercy, righteousness, purity, and persecution as elements valued in God’s Kingdom which is moving being the satisfaction of self known as happiness.

The world today bemoans the pain and suffering.  There are cries for tolerance and letting everyone select their own path toward creating their own good.  Now, self-determination has often resulted in people pursuing goals that bring success and benefit many, but it simply provides means to limit the pain.  Any government can become oppressive and certainly will not please all. There is a better way to live than by the concepts found in the Declaration of Independence when you live in submission to the creator and surrender self to God.  The surrender of self is what is required to join God’s Kingdom. It is His rule and following His determination or it is a self-determined course.  The path of self is filled with illusion and temporary gains, the path of God is that of faith, endurance, and promises of lasting life and happiness as we are transformed and brought in alignment with the Creator’s design and intent.  

Now, we do  have a choice. Each of us. We can choose our path and direction and go by our will, avoiding harm to others.  We can select those who govern us and see if they help or hinder our own and societies well being.  We can seek to live in an ever changing world, altering the social contract as necessary.  The other choice is that of looking beyond this world and entering the Kingdom of God.  It starts with being reconciled with the creator and then results with changes within as we grow and mature as members of God’s kingdom. In God’s Kingdom though all who enter are more than simply subjects, because we are adopted into God’s family. We are selected to a very intimate and select relationship with one who looks for our good always. Yes, even when it does not appear to be so.  It involves entering the eternal contract and surrendering to God’s determination and way.  It is only by doing so can one truly find life, liberty, and happiness for any other way is temporary and illusion leading to bondage.  For it is as stated in John 8:36 (ESV) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Independence Day Musings: Choice of two freedoms: Self-determination versus Self Surrender

Celebrate your In Dependence

Celebrate In Dependence

Today is July 4th. It is the day those of us who are citizens of the United States celebrate the creation of the country. It is the day which the Declaration of Independence was signed. The founding fathers sough to establish a government that represented the will of the people and valued the freedom of self-determination. The country known as the United States grew and thrived as each individual was free to set their course and pursue goals. The freedoms provided in this country have allowed the country to flourish. Yet the freedoms provided in this country are freedoms built on a false foundation.

The freedoms in the United States really are centered on the freedom of self. We can do what we choose to do without excessive restriction. Government is viewed as a contract and the laws we submit to we agree to abide by and if don’t like the laws, we vote in new representatives to negotiate changes to the laws. It is ultimately about each of us doing as we wish so that it does not interfere with others. In this country everyone is free to be independent to the point where don’t interfere with others. In other words we are free do what we want. Now many will argue that the course of freedom in the country was established on Biblical concepts. Yet, if you examine the concept further the freedom of independence is not really the Biblical concept of freedom.

Rather, the Biblical concept of freedom is that of in dependence. We are only free when we surrender self to Jesus. The Bible states in Matthew 10:39 (ESV)
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
” This involves a surrender of self, a giving up of our independence for dependence on Jesus. Only in such surrender is their true freedom. According to Jesus as recorded in John 8:32 (ESV) “and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” and again in John 8:36 (ESV) “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” True freedom is not the independence of self and the right of self-determination. Rather, true freedom is surrender of self. It is turning from self to the King of Kings and living in daily dependence upon him.

It is not an easy choice. We readily accept and value our independence. We seek to grow the kingdom of self. We fall into the trap easily. We go about our lives, filling it with our wants, needs, and desires. Building our families, careers, and lives to that of our liking. We seek to avoid and diminish the suffering. Find ways to entertain self. We build quite a kingdom around us in our independence.

Living in surrender and dependence is quite difficult. We prefer to live our lives accordance to self. We don’t want to be told what to do and how to live our lives, for generally we feel we can manage on our own, until something happens. We turn to God often to meet our own agendas rather than listen and follow what God leads. A life of total surrender is difficult. Our own wants, desires, and agenda easily come to the forefront. Yet, every step of self leads to less true freedom, for all that is of self leads to destruction. We are blinded by our own agendas, desires, knowledge, and plans. We easily substitute what we want for what God wants. We often think that God does not have our best interests at heart. Even if God has promised to grant our desire, we easily lose focus and lose faith. The Bible is filled with people putting their own way of trying to bring about God’s will. Each such step resulted in consequences that still impact us today.

So today, on this day of celebrating Independence take time to examine yourself. Are you walking steps self-directed or God-directed? How is self getting in the way? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus so that you are truly free? Are you willing to pursue a life of being In Dependence rather than independent? Would you rather be free to what you want, do what is right in your own eyes or are you willing to give up self and depend on God and live in accordance with His will? The bible is clear. If you seek to hold onto that which is self, you will be lost. If you surrender self, you gain. The choice is there for each of us, every day, every moment; walk the path of self-determination or self-surrender.

Dependence on Jesus breaks the chain of slavery to self.

Dependence on Jesus breaks the chain of slavery to self.