(I'm reading through Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God" and taking my small group through a DVD study based on the book. Over the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about the book, the study, and the discussions occurring in my group.).
In my small group this week, we talked about the fact that some people reject Christianity because they view it as a confining straightjacket. They see it as an oppresive system that stifles human flourishing.
Keller makes the following observation,"What is the environment that liberates us if we confine ourselves to it, like water liberates the fish? Love. Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all.
One of the principles of love - either love for a friend or romantic love - is that you have to lose independence to attain greater intimacy. If you want the 'freedoms' of love - the fulfillment, security, sense of worth that it brings - you must limit your freedom in many ways."
His observation brought to mind a sappy country western song I heard years ago sung by Paul Overstreet called "Ball and Chain."
Love don't feel like a ball and chain to me.
When I am with you my heart beats wild and free.
If you are my jailer darlin', throw away the key!
'Cause love don't feel like a ball and chain to me.
It makes a point that anyone who's been in love can resonate with. I sacrifice for my wife because I love her. When we were dating, I looked for ways to please her. My behavior changed dramatically and from the outside, it looked restrictive but from the inside, it didn't feel that way at all.
Over a lifetime though, a love relationship will only be healthy if both people surrender their independence and sacrifice for the other. It would be exploitive if only one party did the sacrificing and giving.
Keller notes that, "In the most radical way, God has adjusted to us - in his incarnation and atonement. In Jesus Christ he became a limited human being, vulnerable to suffering and death. On the cross, he submitted to our condition - as sinners - and died in our place to forgive us. In the most profound way, God has said to us, in Christ, 'I will adjust to you. I will change for you. I'll serve you though it means a sacrifice for me."
"Once you realize how Jesus changed for you and gave himself for you, you aren't afriad of giving up your freedom and therefore finding your freedom in him."