While we’re currently living in a very politically divisive and emotionally charged time, there was never a time in our lives when the Gospel message was more relevant. Why? Because every human actually wants the same two things. They just go after them in very different ways. Everyone wants freedom and life, and Jesus gives us both of these in spades!
Bill Vanderbush made this point in a recent message that I thought was very timely for us, considering the cultural climate we find ourselves in. He said that if we would just allow our conversations with those who oppose us to get down to our core values we would find that we both want the same thing.
“Every single human being on the earth that can fog a mirror, can draw breath, and has a heartbeat, has the same two values—freedom and life. NOBODY wants to be controlled, and everybody wants life more abundantly. And this is why the message of the gospel is more important right now than it’s ever been before.”
And, of course, freedom and life is precisely why Jesus came!
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal.5:1 NIV*)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NIV)
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV*)
Beloved, this IS the good news that brings great joy! Jesus came to give us true freedom and give us His life to empower that freedom! We’ve been invited into the very life of the One called Love who holds all of creation together at this moment! There’s no distance or separation anymore between us and God. No more hiding in the bushes behind our religious fig leaves. He is the Truth about God and about us, and He gives us His life to live in order to launch us on a trajectory of ever-increasing freedom!
32 For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.” (John 8:32 TPT)
The problem is, “religion” and political ideologies tend to separate us from each other and basically confuse and poison everything. But that’s another subject for another time.
Vanderbush gives the following example of a conversation between a liberal and a conservative. He says, “Ask the liberal, ‘What threatens you about that conservative?’, or to the conservative, ‘What threatens you about that liberal?'”
CONSERVATIVE: “That person on the left is trying to control my faith, trying to control my money, and they’re trying to control my guns…therefore, control…I’m for freedom! On top of that, they’re for abortion; they’re for death, I’m pro-life! So…I’m for freedom and life, and they are for death and control…”
LIBERAL: “That person on the right is trying to control my morality, my life. They’re trying to tell me what I can do and what I can’t do with my body. They’re trying to basically take away all of my choices…On top of that, that conservative is for capital punishment and war…therefore, they are for death and control. I am for freedom and life!”
Do you see the similarities? Both people want the same things, albeit for very different reasons.
It doesn’t matter if the specific accusations against your position are true; what matters is, where is this person at a heart level? Jesus always spoke to the heart of people. That’s why His responses often didn’t seem to make sense.
For instance, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well to go get her husband, which had absolutely nothing to do with the argument she was making. Instead, He was locating her heart, addressing her shame, so He could set her free through the offer of everlasting life, which is what she was really looking for. The result was that the whole city came out to see Jesus (see John 4:5-30). Now, that’s effective evangelism!
We’re not that effective because we don’t address the heart. We tend to respond to the argument. But it’s with the heart that one believes, not the argument. The heart always comes before the logic. We only need the argument to justify why we made the decision.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Rom.10:10 NIV*)
We must remember that every human being has the DNA of heaven stamped on their hearts (Eccl.3:11). Paul said that he commended himself to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor.4:2). So we, too, can find common ground if we will allow the conversation to go deep enough to reach these intrinsic core values.
While it’s true that not everyone will respond to this reality, we can certainly be more effective than we are by understanding that they really want the same things as us. We can learn a lot from Jesus’ and Paul’s methods. And we can do this without attacking the other person or compromising our faith. Jesus is the truth that sets people free, not our clever arguments.
Think about Jesus’ invitation to all of us. Is it not compelling in such wearisome times?
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.11:28-30 MSG)
I will talk about one practical method of engaging in this conversation next time.
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Thanks Sandra, but this link doesn’t work. Apparently, you have to be part of the particular Facebook group to be able to get it.
Hmm, lots of food for thought there, Mel! I’m all over the second part, address the heart! Awesome point about Jesus and the woman at the well. I just love how He always asks the women questions, “where is your husband?” Or with the adulteress, “Where are your accusers?” He already knows, He’s not fishing for information, He is addressing their needs and healing their hearts.
The first part, do most people want freedom and life? I’m not so sure. We’re complicated. A lot of people get so trapped in those heart issues, freedom is terrifying for them. Also, with freedom comes accountability, which also tends to scare people. So I remain unconvinced but I’ll let you know if I ever get it all sorted out.:)
I totally understand what you’re saying about the freedom and life, IB. It is complicated, so I will explain in more depth.
I think you’ll see that when we’re able to dig down through the layers of complication, we generally find the same wants. I also agree, a LOT of people are afraid of freedom and life as we know it, but that’s their brokenness, not their true desires that lay beneath the strongholds of lies they hold on to. And, so even their idea of “freedom” won’t look like freedom to us (they may want to be free to destroy themselves, etc.!), but it’s still the same innate desire, albeit perverted by pain and bondage.
So many might just seek freedom through escape, addictions, or socialism (they’re all the same drug) 🙂 It’s rather ironic with socialism. They relinquish their true freedoms and individual rights to the state so they can be free from personal responsibilities and, thus, allow the state to constrain their freedoms without limit! Atheists want to be free from moral responsibility with God. It’s all the same. No one likes to be forced into doing something because God gives all humankind freedom of choice…even if we want government to control everything, thus taking away our freedoms! Our ability to hold on to cognitively dissonant ideas is another crazy complication!
Interestingly, the Medieval clergy and laity teaching gave birth to secularism! The monk or priest would be the spiritual surrogate for both royalty and peasant so they could be free to live their carnal and hypocritical lives and not have to actually follow Christ! This is another type of distorted freedom that actually prevented them finding true freedom in following Christ (John 8:31-32).
The reason the Gospel is so compelling is because of the promise of freedom and life that Jesus came to give us. He fully knows our broken condition and came to restore us to our true selves…to give us life abundantly. So, the condition of the heart and our perception of freedom are inextricably tied together.
Again, this is NOT to say we will be successful in digging down to this deep desire for life and freedom in everyone. Getting to the bottom of this with people is very difficult. My point (from Bill Vanderbush’s point) is that knowing this innate desire helps guide us in our conversations with people. And that when you shut down the very essence of what makes life worth living (being together in relationship, connecting, and all the things taken away from us in this pandemic in 2020), people are more keenly aware of their need for freedom and life. Some will seek it through their anger, anarchy and riots, others will seek it in more healthy ways. We need to be ready for those who are ready to embrace true freedom and have life more abundantly in the midst of this dystopian world we find ourselves living in. 🙂
Great points, Mel. I will definitely chew on that one for awhile. I hadn’t thought of people attempting to seek freedom through escape, like in addiction or ha, socialism! I guess I just see the horrible bondage to be found there, but yes, even
escape is a form of seeking freedom.
Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
Mel Wild has a post that we all ought to read. Why? Well, like insanitybytes I don’t entirely agree with it. Nevertheless, Mel makes several points that are full of insight.
1. Liberals and Conservatives are more alike than different. We all want freedom and life. What we share in common makes it possible for us to communicate.
2. When we communicate, we have to get to the heart issues. Without ever addressing the desires, fears, loves, and hatreds that reside within our hearts, we spend a lot of time arguing about the means we choose to gain our ends. Yet until we address the heart issues, we cannot resolve our differences.
3. We were all made in the image of God. We all need the Gospel of Jesus. He provides the only path to freedom and life.
Why don’t I entirely agree with Mel? I doubt that even Mel believes that EVERYONE wants freedom and life. Most of the “truths” that we come up with are only partly or largely true. That is, the assertion that all Liberals and Conservatives want the same things but for different reasons is only partly true.
Consider. What does Satan want? Does Satan want freedom and life? Probably not, but would he tell us what he does want? How many of us have adopted Satan’s desires as our own, but would those who have have adopted Satan’s desires as their own tell us the truth?
Do we even define the terms “freedom” and “life” the same way? No. Some see freedom as freedom from sin. Others see freedom as the ability to do anything they wish to do. Some see life as eternal life with our Maker. Others desire eternal health and youth in this world.
How we define the terms “freedom” and “life”, however, is a heart issue. Therefore, to give Mel credit, in order to begin resolving our differences, we must begin at the heart level.
Thanks for the re-blog, Tom! 🙂 We may be in agreement more than first appears. I will refer you to my comments to IB for my deeper explanation of why people want freedom and life. My point is that I think God designed us this way, which is why the Gospel is so compelling, but as you said, it may not look like freedom as we know it, which is why we need to get to the “heart” before people will see that Jesus is the One who gives us the freedom and life we’re actually looking for.
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In a cultural sense, we’ve lost the sense of the art of conversation. We’ve been trained, so to speak, by algorithms, to engage with only our biases–to the most extreme.
I’ve been reflecting on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and his focus on the divisions in Corinth. Naturally, it swings both ways, but I remember some discussions on a forum which I use to be an author on the role of Junia in the early church. Was she a minister in the clerical sense? Or merely a servant who aided Paul in a more shunamite woman type manner. And of course, the discussion degraded into, “your church…” Nobody was willing step back and simply say the obvious most fundamental way, Junia was important to the early Church and celebrate that obvious fact. In fact, the letters of St. Paul are letters to which we do not have the other side of the conversation, so in the most productive thing was to celebrate the obvious fact to which the text speaks and build on that agreement.
That’s a great point about how we’re trained by algorithms from social media, etc., which keeps us in our own confirmation bias echo chamber rather than in an open marketplace of ideas. We certainly have lost (or were never taught) the art of conversation.
And, yes, the Junia debate is a good example of how we obsess over speculative things rather see the main point. Thanks for your comments!
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