______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

She’s Free. Her Friends Aren’t Happy. December 4, 2010

I got a call from a dear saint I’ve know for years. For some degree of privacy, we’ll call her “Jane.”

Jane’s been struggling, also for years, in religious bondage, fear, and worry. We’ve had a number of talks throughout our friendship. She watched and listened as the journey my wife and I were on led us to new depths of freedom in the Lord. There was a longing in her eyes. Our words rang very true, but she couldn’t seem to find that place she longed for.

Recently, she found it.

Jane came over a number of weeks ago to talk with us. We re-emphasized many of the truths we had shared before. My wife made some observations that were hard for Jane to take, but she knew they were true. She knew things had to change.
Still struggling, she had decided she was going to leave the institution she was currently attending.
She had close ties there, and didn’t want to just walking away without talking with one of her closest friends.

She called her friend, and asked if they could go out to breakfast soon, so they could chat. Her dear friend of many years said, “I don’t think so.” Jane kind of chuckled, knowing it must be a joke, and asked again. “I don’t think so” was, again, the response.

When I left the institution, I had relationships I tried very hard to retain. One in particular. That gentleman, whom I still love deeply, simply doesn’t want to keep that relationship. Like Jane’s friend, this once-loving, dear brother saw leaving the institution as leaving the friendship.

How sad is that?

If that doesn’t show the power of the perverse grip of religion, I don’t know what does.

Jane’s friend knew of her struggles. But rather than rejoicing in Jane’s new found joy of the Lord, she
couldn’t see past her dedication to her religious institution.

These people aren’t intentionally evil. The power of religion that enslaves them, however, is!
Like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day, they hate and fear the freedom of God.
They talk a good talk, but truly never understand the “scandal of grace.”

I’m glad Jane called me, knowing she would have someone to share her joy. It has renewed my commitment to continue to stand against oppressive religion, legalism, and much of fundamentalist evangelicalism. If there is an anti-Christ spirit alive today, it is, as Carol Harper has said, the thing we call “Christianity.”

Today, I rejoice with my sister, while sharing the sadness of friendships lost. Her friend told her the exact same thing mine told me: “It will never be the same between us.” Sadly, that is true only because they make it so.

On the up-side, the “good news” for Jane is finally good news. She has felt a heavy burden lifted. She is entering a new rest, and a truer understanding of grace.

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ.


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