[anzac] "OBLIGATION" IS THE CAGE

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2004 23:24:50 +1300
"Thriving Outside the Box"
-by Wayne Jacobsen.

Over the last decade I've communicated with thousands of 
people whom God has awoken to the fact that they have 
grown up in religious cages that have stunted their growth 
and robbed them of God's life.

But not all who find themselves outside the box thrive in 
their newfound freedom. Though many do, others find living 
outside disorienting and uncertain. While they know well the 
pain of the box they were in, they don't know how to thrive 
outside of it. Nothing works the way they are used to and
if they don't learn to live differently their release will be their 
ruin. They will soon learn that freedom itself is not the goal. 
It is only an opportunity. If they don't use it to live more 
deeply in Jesus they will find themselves using it to stew in 
their anger at the cage that held them or to succumb to the 
ever-enticing flesh.

I know the analogy almost begs misunderstanding so let 
me be clear from the outset. If you're thinking the cage 
represents those who participate in a Sunday morning 
event in those buildings many mistakenly call 'churches,'
you would be wrong. It is not as simple as that. The cage 
that imprisons God's people is not religious institutions 
per se, but the system of religious obligation that many of 
them (though not all) use to preserve the institution or to 
advance its program. Just because you meet in a home is
no guarantee you've broken free of this system either. By 
moving it into a more intimate setting it only becomes more hurtful.

But no matter how we gather with believers, God wants all 
of us liberated from the cage of religious obligation. Because 
it is based on human effort for spiritual growth and community 
life, this cage is lined with guilt that you're never doing enough 
to earn God's favor and it is laced with the fear that your 
spiritual security lies in conforming to the doctrine and
program of the group. It often focuses on an institutional 
program or someone's personal vision, rewarding those who 
conform while abusing those who do not.

Many of us who gave ourselves wholeheartedly to that system 
were shocked to find out that it could only deliver an illusion 
of God's life but never the reality. It exploited our most noble 
intentions and imprisoned us with our basest desires. It 
offered temporal security, spoon-fed nourishment and even
some emotionally satisfying moments, but it could not let 
us soar to the heights. This system only wore us out with 
its programs, exhausting our efforts while bearing little fruit, 
and while it could conform our external behavior, it could 
not transform our inner thoughts and motives. So sin still 
undermined us, guilt consumed us and emptiness hounded 
us and we were only left with the inescapable conclusion 
that it wasn't working because we weren't trying hard enough.

But every once in awhile God will allow his followers to see 
through the illusion of religious obligation and see what a 
failure it truly is. This usually comes with considerable pain -
either exposure of our spiritual shallowness or of the 
exploitation or betrayal of someone we thought was a
close friend.

People react to those moments differently. Some take their 
liberty and go on in a relationship with God that becomes 
deeper and more powerful every day. Others may blame the 
symptom of the pain (an abusive leader or intransigent
institution) and miss the larger reality of how the system itself
destroys.

They may move outside the box, but with considerable anger. 
Unresolved pain quickly devours their passion for Jesus and 
they find themselves emptier in freedom than they did in the 
cage.

Others become so jaded they shun even genuine expressions 
of fellowship, fearful they will end up in another counterfeit. 
Neither the bondage of religion nor the complacency of 
freedom will lead people into Father's fullness.

If we don't find a greater freedom in Jesus outside the cage 
we will wither away.
*************************