By: Danny Wallace
Pigs wallow in mud – birds don’t. There are scientific reasons. Pigs don’t sweat, so they need the coolness of the mud to prevent their bodies from overheating. Birds don’t have this problem. There is a reason why birds don’t wallow in the mud. When their feathers are coated in mud they can’t fly. Newsflash – neither can you, or I.
I speak of freedom most everyday. Boundaries negate freedom. Nevertheless, “freedom” always decides how far to fly. Let me boil it down in “easy to understand” terms. If I am the only person on earth, then I am absolutely free. No one is watching, and no one is telling me how far to go. I’m not told how to dress, where to live, or what to eat. However, in absolute freedom, I will decide each of these things for myself.
I will likely continue to avoid foods that make me fat, raise my cholesterol, or cause me to feel fatigued. I may choose a much smaller house, simply because I don’t want to spend all of my time managing a larger one. These limits aren’t boundaries – these are decisions birthed from the womb of true freedom.
As a strong voice of Grace, let me offer this bit of cautious wisdom to those who misinterpret freedom as careless selfishness. The absolute freedom of Grace produces the most considerate of servants. When we park our cars we are thinking of the person who will park to the front, left, and right of our car. Am I across their line? Will they be able to get in an out of their car comfortably? These are attributes of someone understanding true freedom.
The man misunderstanding freedom thinks of himself. He is always broadcasting his freedom, while laughing at those who are bound, yoked, and miserably restricted by a Law long ago fulfilled. In reality, this man is the greatest prisoner of all, for he has locked himself in a prison of his own arrogance, while attributing such an attitude to our Savior’s humble authority.
Grace produces peace. It also produces thoughtfulness of others. It is a man knowing that he can do all things, but also understanding that just because he can, doesn’t mean he should. I know that no food is spiritually unclean for me. I am no longer under Law – I am under Grace. Nevertheless, not every food is profitable for me. God is not displeased, or distanced from me if I eat these unprofitable foods, but my physical health may suffer the consequences of my arrogant idea of freedom.
Likewise, I understand that I am not bound in any way by any portion of religious Law. There is no spiritual magic in saying a blessing over my food, and there is nothing precious and sacred about communion tables, pews, church buildings, or certain days of the week. Nevertheless, when in the presence of those who see it differently, Grace always defers to the comfort of others.
I have a particular friend whom I love and admire in many ways. He is older than I, and no doubt, far wiser. We are as different as daylight and dark. He has very specific and stringent demands about most everything in life, whereas, I don’t. This description isn’t offered to imply that one way is right, and the other is wrong. It is merely a description of a friendship where two people have very little in common.
A mutual friend of ours once asked me how in the world I had remained friends with our mutual friend. Both of us are in ministry, but our views of Law and Grace are vastly different. Our mutual friend was scratching his head over the fact that this man and I have remained friends for many years.
I told him the answer is simple. When I am with our mutual friend I do what he wants to do, eat what he wants to eat, and conduct myself in a way that makes him feel most comfortable in his religious beliefs. In short, I don’t have an agenda regarding our friendship. I don’t consider him wrong, and consider myself to be right. I consider that we both “breathe” by the Grace of God. It is far better to lay down your life for a friend, than it is to stand up – push forward, and humiliate anyone.
This is Grace. The Giver of Grace became the servant of ALL. On the day before His crucifixion, Jesus took the filthy feet of creation in His loving hands to tenderly wash them clean. He didn’t just wash the feet of those popular with religion, like Peter – He also took the feet of Judas in His hands of inclusive, and equal love.
True freedom has no agenda. True freedom has no limits, restrictions, or religious boundaries. True freedom simply treats ALL people the way it would like to be treated. When you encounter a person with this attitude you have encountered the true definition of Graceful freedom. Anything less is a bird wallowing in the mud.