Friday, May 07, 2021

To Be Free Is Not to Be Relevant

(Pelican, in Cancun)

The only fish that goes with the flow is a dead fish. Beware of the flow.

The person that only goes with their desires is a slave. The one who reacts in response to an urge, a feeling, that they have to do something, is not free. 

Thomas Merton writes:

"No person who simply eats and drinks whenever he feels like eating and drinking, who smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, who gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person." (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 85)

The fish that swims against the flow is alive. Free people swim upstream.  "Freedom," for the follower of Jesus, is choosing what God wants, against urges, feelings, and desires. Against culture. This is a higher form of living.

When God interrupts your evening agenda, and calls you to help the needy person, freedom is getting out of your jammies, putting on your clothes, and heading into the snowy night on a rescue mission in spite of your feelings

Interruptibility is a mark of freedom.

To serve others selflessly is a sign of freedom. To self-deny is to be free. To be free isn't to do what you want, it is to be free of what you want. 

Can a person freely choose according to their desires? Yes. This happens when both mind and heart have been morphed into the "mind of Christ." This person is one who, "whether he eats or drinks or whatever else he does, does all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Merton writes:

"This does not mean that he merely registers in his mind an abstract intention to glorify God. It means that in all his actions he is free from the superficial automatism of conventional routine. It means that in all that he does he acts freely, simply, spontaneously, from the depths of his heart, moved by love." (Ib., 15)

Trying to be "relevant" places too much emphasis on "the flow." "Relevance" is the wide gate that leads to destruction. Jesus goes against the flow of culture. His followers swim with him, upstream. 

The Jesus Movement is not relevant, but counter-cultural. In many cases, it defies relevance.