The Cry For Freedom: Book Study – Chapter 1

02 February, 2015

original answer to our cryThanks for taking part in this study. The hope is that you’ll see a beautiful picture of God’s complete love, how he shares it through the Father, Son, and Spirit, and how we are included in it it so that we can love others. Let’s begin.

Chapter 1

The Cry For Freedom

We all desire freedom. We were created for it, and yet in a very real way we can’t seem to grasp it.  We try to create it for ourselves, twisting the definition of freedom into something that seems more attainable. We try so hard to get free from our sin, our addictions, and our pain. Yet no matter how hard we try we find ourselves still longing for freedom.

The Answer To Our Cry

Scripture tells the story of God who hears the cry of His people and responds. He has heard humanity’s cry for freedom and responded with a love that is so deep and rich it has the ability to truly set us free.   That love comes to us in Jesus. Galatians 5:1 says that it was “for freedom that Christ has set us free.” But how?

This freedom in Christ comes in the form of relationship; it comes as an invitation to join in the communion that has always existed between the Father, Son, and Spirit. It is an invitation to enter that eternal communion and put away those things that enslave us.

So no matter what your cry for freedom, God has gone to extreme lengths to set you free. He has invited you to join Him in loving relationship as his beloved sons and daughters, and to begin a journey to live fully, love boldly, and fear nothing.

Study Questions 

It’s time to start the conversation! Feel free to engage as many of these questions as you’d like in the comment section below.

1. On page 19 Rick describes how his vision of freedom sometimes looks more like perfection. Have you twisted the definition of freedom in a similar way? Discuss.

2. Rick describes the “main text” of the Biblical story as God’s nature and being (who he is), and the “subtext” as the story of salvation (what he has done). Read Exodus 3:7–10 and describe what it says about who God is.

3. Rick defines true freedom as the ability to live fully, love boldly, and fear nothing. Think about the area of your life where you desire this kind of freedom (addiction, debt, rocky relationships, your faith, etc.). Do you believe this freedom is available to you? Discuss.

13 Responses to “The Cry For Freedom: Book Study – Chapter 1”

  1. Don Woodward

    #2 – The “main text” = who God is. The “subtext” = what God has done. Wow! I underlined these sentences on page 25 after I read them. As I see it, this is the most radical point being made in the first chapter. This thinking is upside down from what has been served up by western evangelical Christianity in the modern era. I would say the emphasis has been strongly upon, “what Jesus/God has done for me” (and my required response), not so much upon “who Father/Son/Spirit” is. And I like this shift very much, because I believe we are being called into relationship with a person (divine being) not into relationship with an event or a set of facts. So perhaps if we come to a renewed understanding of the main text, the subtext will be turned upside down as well.

    Reply
    • Rick McKinley

      Don, Thanks. You’re right, we’ve often talked about Jesus by his benefits in Western Evangelicalism. Like a shopping network on television we tell everyone about what God can do for them thinking we’re creating a good argument for buying in. Instead, all we’ve done is created a concept that a relationship with God is primarily about getting. Thank you for commenting on this point. It truly is a hindrance to many followers of Jesus who continually find themselves bound up in religious slavery. May we instead fall in love with God for who He is!

      Reply
  2. Heidi Dahlin

    Erica, as a kid I remember thinking that being an adult would be awesome. I figured I would go to Dairy Queen every day and eat ice cream. Who would have known that someday I’d have to watch my weight and I’d be allergic to dairy? As a kid we think that freedom is being an adult and being able to make our own choices; as an adult, we look back to childhood to the freedom that we had, but somehow missed. Now that you’re grown and out of the house, it is supposed to be the time of my life that I am “free”, but that didn’t make me feel free, I just missed you. It wasn’t until recently that I truly experienced freedom. It was when I could face all the accusations of inadequacy that I had taken up from others throughout my life and respond from the heart that in Jesus I am adequate. I am enough, not because of who I am, but because of who I know. If I could give you any wisdom, it would be to realize the richness of relationships you have–with God, with Jeff, with Corbin and Esme, with us–and realize the freedom found in knowing you are loved. We will never run out of problems, but we also will never run out of grace.

    Reply
    • Erica Beller

      Thanks Mom. I know without you and Dad, Jeff, Corbin, and Esme, I wouldn’t be able to get through. And I have a feeling my days of enjoying Dairy Queen are numbered too.

      Reply
  3. Heidi Dahlin

    Q1. When I became a Christian34 years ago, what I desperately wanted was freedom from feeling inadequate. I remember the elation of feeling loved and accepted for the first time–Jesus picked ME! Then I went to church and was told what I needed to do to be acceptable, and things crumbled from there. Rather than feeling freedom, I grew to believe that God would only find me acceptable if I was good enough, which looked pretty dram much like perfect. It was as if grace could only save me, but after that, I had better get to work. It was exhausting and I came to Imago nine years ago to beaten down to even sing at worship time. What I have learned is that with Jesus, I am enough. Singing the words with Hannah “It was for freedom that he freed us” became real. Freedom was reading through the Bible is last year not from the mindset of what more does God want me to do, but reading it as a beautiful story that I am a part of. I love that on page 26 that you wrote, “Freedom comes from desiring God for who he is, not what he has done for us.” That is the message I was missing all these years. What a crazy idea that God would also delight in who I am, rather than what I do, as if I could ever do anything that would impress God.

    Reply
    • Rick McKinley

      Your story paints a beautiful picture of what God’s love and true freedom looks like vs. what we want it to look like. Unfortunately many of us become convinced that after obtaining freedom in Christ we now have to do things to maintain that freedom. Part of it I guess is normal. It seems easier to talk about a set of things that we need to do, and I think we feel better about ourselves when we try to repay God for what he’s done. But when we have this shift in our understanding that freedom comes from desiring God for who is then it seems absurd to even try to pay him back for being who he is. It’s great hearing that this has freed you to worship God again. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
  4. Erica Beller

    1. Guilty. I often recognize this daily as being “efficient”. That if I can learn enough and hit that perfect stride my time would be perfectly balanced. Unfortunentally my husband and children aren’t very efficient (as well as myself) and I get stuck in thinking the next day will be better. It’s not just in the big things like freedom from pain or sin. But freedom in being okay that my husband will throw a blue towel in with the whites, and my son will use too much electricity.

    3. I think it’s hard to even realize what freedom looks like in the day to day. Just like knowing God’s love and grace are just concepts until the moment you feel it. Knowing logically as opposed to knowing it through experience. As a kid I wanted to be free when I got older, as I got older it just seemed there were more things I didn’t have freedom in. Right now I struggle with a lack of freedom with one of my son. He’s in a bad situation that I’m powerless to do anything about. Sometimes I can get to the place where I know God loves my son more than me, and no matter what evil is allowed to happen God can redeem it. But as a mother I can’t ignore that my son is hurting and we are constantly thrown into grief. Freedom to me falsely feels like getting our of our situation. Or getting to the place where the pain doesn’t affect me. Freedom feels more like something that will be a gift at the end of a long, hard life.

    As someone who has become more of an anxious person as I get older, it’s hard to imaging getting back to a time when I had the confidence to tell life to bring it on. It’s more like “Just kidding, leave me alone”, now.

    Reply
    • Rick McKinley

      Erica, I understand completely. Sometimes it’s just those little things that drive us crazy which end up defining what we think it means to be free. But if we define freedom as efficiency then anything that gets in the way of efficiency is seen as something we need to be free from. In this way freedom becomes something that happens when we withdraw from others instead of something that happens when we are drawn into a relationship of love. #3 I think you summed up perfectly how it feels to be a parent! Sometimes we wish God would let us define freedom because then we could throw away all of those situations that bother us, and our pain, and our hurt. As far as what it looks like every day, it’s not that it looks like any set of actions or behaviors. Nor does it look like some sort of spiritual bravado that tells life to ‘bring it on’ as you say. I’ve approached life that way plenty of times. However I usually do it from a false sense of how great my own abilities are to handle life. So then freedom on a daily basis looks more like someone who walks through the situations of life, both good and bad, resting in their new identity in Christ. This is not just some pat answer, but meant to encourage us not seek some set of behaviors that will prove our freedom, but instead to have a paradigm shift in our thinking and our approach to God. Where now we walk through situations not in our own bravado, but from the position of being secure in God’s love regardless of how we feel about our own abilities in that situation. Is this helpful as you imagine what it might be like to walk in this freedom when someone does something that causes anxiety?

      Reply
      • Erica Beller

        I do find it helpful. I think growing up as a church kid I really felt like God was my best friend and together (first mistake) we were going to conquer the world. I read a lot and I think part of me wanted to discover I was actually going to be a heroine. Instead I realized God isn’t always safe and He doesn’t promise a life free from suffering. For a few years I grieved feeling like I lost his voice. I kept coming to church out of obedience but didn’t “feel” anything again for quite awhile. Even now it feels like coming across a best friend from childhood who you don’t quite know anymore, but you’re too connected by history to ever let go. I remember a sermon you did 2-3 years back where you talked about being angry with God. I’m not angry at the person who hurt me.. because I expect it from someone who is a horrible person. I’m angry at the best friend God who let it happen. I do need a shift in thinking. And like you said this last Sunday about the healed demonic man, I don’t want to spend my life focusing on my own healing. I want to just live into this freedom.

        Reply
        • Rick McKinley

          Erica, thank you again for your honesty. Your comment about God not being safe is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ depiction of Aslan in his Narnia stories as a lion who is king, but not tame. He is good but not safe. This was Lewis’ view of God as well. That we should not confuse God’s goodness with our own idea of safety. Our idea of safe is that nothing bad will ever happen to us. This is why so many of us struggle with the question “if God is good why does he let bad things happen?” This question starts with the false idea that suffering is bad, and that God’s job should be to police all suffering and stop it from happening. Instead we get a God who loves us as a father, who calls us to love him, who invites us to know him, who counts us as His own children, who suffered on our behalf, and who understands our pain. That is a much more beautiful God! He doesn’t promise us our version of safety He promises His version of freedom. Erica, you are not alone in expressing your anger toward God, and it sounds like you are allowing God to use your pain to teach you more about His love as you turn from self focus toward living into relationship with God.

          Reply
  5. Don Chatelain

    Q#1 Rick it seems to me that I am blocking my freedom in Christ when I fall short of (to use your term from Sunday) the 100% “relational trust” required to Hear & Obey the Living Word and Holy Spirit. When you used that term on Sunday, my own blocking became clearer. Does this make sense?

    Reply
    • Rick McKinley

      I think many Christians are in the same boat. We love to talk about a God that is so loving that He gave Himself for us, invites us into a loving relationship, shares all that He is with us, and sets us free. The problem is that we have a hard time accepting that such a God could exist, that He gives us this extravagant gift without our need to repay Him, and that He truly loves us. This lack of trust keeps us from being free because true freedom is only found in relationship to Him. So we want this freedom, and God says it’s available. He invites us into the relationship that will bring us that freedom, yet we aren’t sure if we can trust Him.
      Thank you for making this connection between Sunday’s sermon and your engagement with the book. You make a good point that probably many of us struggle with. Trust requires risk and risk is scary. We can either play it safe (where we keep our current version of “freedom”) or we can risk it all and jump into relationship with this God who gives himself freely so that we can be truly free. The hope of this book is to paint a picture of God’s love that inspires us to risk it all, so that we might be truly free to live, and to love.

      Reply
      • Wallace H

        Though I’ve only recently started attending (and loving) Imago, I feel fortunate, and dare I say blessed, to stumble upon this book study/discussion just as its starting and at such a personally relevant moment. And/but, as a dangerously independent thinker (pompous ass), I hope not to wear out my welcome. For example, I generally think a scholarly book should spend about half its pages and energy parsing and justifying its premises, as authors often tend to just slap them up on the table rather cavalierly, and then freely, boldly, and fearlessly set forth without much fanfare or self-examination. In other words, the devil’s in the details.

        For example, (and I admit this is nit-picking) saying that “we all desire freedom” seems a bit brash. Maslow’s triangle and perhaps the world-wide (historical) success of Communism might suggest otherwise. Freedom’s banner flies best on a full stomach. After that, one might (just for fun) add a Smart Phone, comfortable Cole Haan shoes, good looks, S.A.T.s in the ninety fifth percentile, and either well-off parents, a nice trust fund, or a reliable stream of burgeoning offering plates.

        Perhaps a more salient issue is the (implied) premise that God wants us “to live fully, love boldly, and fear nothing”. One is at least compelled to understand that God’s definition of these things/virtues is not the same as “the world’s”; and/but quite often the temptation (especially among youthful Christians) is to have them overlap. This more codgerly old duffer (me) is more likely to think God places at least equal emphasis on learning humility, maintaining our godly armor and an obedient posture as well as the fruits of the spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.., not to mention (here come those four fingers) learning to tame the tongue.

        From another vantage, “Fully, Boldly, Fearlessly” puts me in mind of the movie “V For Vendetta” and that whole rebel-freedom-fighter genre – where the novitiate, aspiring to fight courageously for the cause, must first be torn down and rebuilt through a lengthy process of tortuous and diminishing circumstances. In other words, there’s a high price to pay.., some sort of horrific initiation, so to speak. It’s sort of like the disciples, who wanted to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand, not having the wisdom to beware what they were wishing for. Or….

        Mary Wells (The Supremes) said it right: “You can’t hurry love.”

        Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>