Back in June I wrote a post on freedom. I'd like to reflect more on that. The Israelites are on the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot on their tail. In Exodus 14, this is what they say to Moses:
Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, 'Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!Notice their language: every sentence has the word "Egypt" or "Egyptian" in it. The Israelites were so enmeshed, so saturated with "Egypt" that they couldn't even discern the extent of their own bondage. They could only think, speak and act within the given coordinates that had been dictated to them for so long. Total freedom was not only unthinkable, not only ridiculous (literally, Moses was ridiculed), not only impossible, but even moot. That is, in the minds of such enslaved people, the freedom offered made no sense because it didn't fit within the given categories. To the Israelites, the freedom they were invited to meant death because it severed them from the hand that fed them all these years. It meant a brutal and final amputation from security and some kind of life. The Israelites had become their own slave-masters. They no longer needed chains or gates because their own minds were so entrenched in the category of domination, slavery and bondage. The had been thoroughly trained in servitude. And not just to the political entity called "Egypt", but the spiritual/psychological/emotional power "Egypt" represented and held over them. This should cause us pause. How thoroughly entrenched am I within the category of bondage? How am I so habitually enslaved that I can't even see outside the box of my slavery? How extensively have I settled for some level of security and comfort that I have ejected true freedom from my mind altogether? How have I willingly surrendered my own independence and self-governance in exchange for food? Have I adopted the identity of a zombie... not really dead but not really alive, because of my fear of death in the wilderness? How am I enslaved in my job, my marriage, my relationships, my church, my culture, my religion, my politics, my economics? These are vital questions because I believe we are invited to total freedom... Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Free indeed! Even in the middle of situations where we have no choice but to stay, how do we exercise true dignity, self-respect, self-governance and freedom that is the right of all people?