For years leading up to this point, I had a consistent audience with an inconsistent group. The people who I was put in front of often had nowhere else to go. Youth prison, local jails and courtrooms were my office of ministry. I served people who had nowhere else to go so comparison, competition and consumption were not in play as they considered what I brought. They were desperate and in need of hope in whatever form they could find it.
That’s not to say that everyone changed everything based on what I was offering. They needed the truth and if there was anything true in what I was saying, they would consider it. Their options were limited as their choices had robbed them of their freedom.
There is an interesting dynamic in the idea of freedom. When our physical freedom is limited, we seek spiritual freedom with greater interest. The more limited and desperate our circumstances, the more interested and passionate our pursuit of hope. Take away our ability to choose and we get to the core of our choices. We’ll go to the “why” of our circumstances when the “what” has left us busted.
The other side of the freedom coin is religion which is often emboldened by capitalism. When we have comfortable, nice stuff and practice a well-behaved, socially acceptable form of religion we are less desperate. The blind spots of our character remain blind spots as we focus on the fruit of our efforts instead of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. From this place of comfort, we critically analyze ministry to determine if it fits our situation. Discomfort in the thought of upsetting our niche leads us to reject the freedom which is deeper than our physical mobility.
We are invited from glory to glory but yesterday’s glory is suiting us just fine so take your invitation into tomorrow’s glory to the jails. We’ll hang out here in the suburbs and count ourselves as righteous. See you at the homeless shelter next Thanksgiving to hand out food just for an exclamation point on our statement of justification.
There is always more; none of us are done. We will settle for being done when we are comfortable enough, however. When the music, message, ministry or man isn’t in our box, we’ll find fault to distract from the fault within us. That box becomes our prison and the limit of our freedom.