Ragamuffin Gospel: #8 – Freedom from Fear

Chapter 8

Freedom Awaits All

This chapter starts with a summary of Dostoyevsky’s, The Brothers Karamazov. For the church, this is a rather fatalistic view of its organization and intention to control parishioners. Quite depressing. Following this brief discussion, Manning asserts, “Some Christians want to be slaves.” This is not the freedom taught by Jesus, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed John 8:36.”

The fear that Manning wants us to deal with is perhaps best described as a lack of positive self-image. We don’t see ourselves as truly saved, adopted into the family of Christ. If we did, we would NOT worry about the taunts and pointed words of those who don’t know Jesus. Instead, we would understand their doubts and skepticism and love them anyway.

For many, and I’m sure I’m included in the bunch, we want “to be well thought of by everyone,” but this doesn’t mean with must adapt a new personality for each situation (p. 152). I completely agree with this statement:

In Christ Jesus freedom from fear empowers us to let go of the desire to appear good, so that we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are.

The real challenge is to love others as Jesus loved others. That’s a simple statement, but not so simple to do. My careless words leave people hurt and often don’t reveal their impact for weeks! The key is listen to the hearts of those around us more than we wrap ourselves up in our own concerns. “The gentleness of Jesus with sinners flowed from His ability to read their hearts.”

Then there’s the struggle between discipline and love. I know discipline is good and I understand that loving someone means I accept their faults. So where do we draw the line? The only way to answer this is by changing our own hearts first. If I am a man chasing after God, doing everything in my control to love God and love others, the time for discipline should be evident. If I am serving my own best interests, discipline could simply be a method of climbing the corporate ladder or getting something I want. There our sinful nature takes over.

However, the point of this chapter is this: “we are free from the slavery of sin–for what? For the saving grace of the living God!” It’s not about us. Sorry to break the news to the world!

The more we read the Bible, converse with God through prayer and meditation, the more we understand we have nothing to fear in this world; rather, we have something to tell the world, some amazing Good News! If we fully believe what we sing about, we must share the gospel with our neighborhood, city, state, etc. Kinda sounds like Jesus command to us doesn’t it?

Thank you, Lord, for the freedom from fear. Help me live that out in my daily life.


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