I have been increasingly haunted by the following quote from Gerhad O. Forde, “If you begin with the assumption of freedom, the preoccupation is always how to keep freedom in check, how to bind: But if you begin with the assumption of bondage, the preoccupation is always how to set out the word that frees.” This assumption, bondage or freedom changes everything. It changes our expectations, charts our course of action and defines the means by which we will get there.
You would think that at a pastor’s conference, where pastor’s stand to proclaim the Word to other pastor’s (as strange scene to be sure and not for the faint of heart) the assumptions would be clear. Sadly that is not always the case. A sermon that seeks to motivate and encourage through therapeutic and passionate pleas to my conscience assumes that I am free and not bound. A lesson from the Barna Research Group on the struggles and challenges in reaching the millennial generation assumes that the problem is not a bound conscience but a wayward freedom, a lack of being rooted, a life lived in front of screens with all it’s informational overload.
Now look, I’m not saying that a better understanding of the generations that come after us isn’t a good thing. Nor am I saying that there isn’t a need for good therapy and proper motivation. I am saying that when these things become the means by which you think you are going to do the work of the church you are operating with a particular assumption, the assumption of freedom – and that assumption is dead wrong!
Perhaps instead of wringing our hands over the loss of the millennial generation by seeking to provide a cultural apologetic for them we need to take a good hard look at what we have been preaching! Maybe it is time to quit assuming the will is free and in need of proper motivation and assume it is bound and can only be freed by a proclamation that kills and brings forth a new life. Let us be the hit-men and midwifes of our God.