"Wild, dangerous, unfettered and free." That's Walter Brueggemann's description of God as quoted in John Eldredge's book, Wild At Heart. And that's a description of who we are as well, as children of this wild, dangerous, unfettered, free God. It's in our spiritual DNA. He has passed His nature onto us, His children. We were created to live from this new nature.
However, many in the church today would try to tame us, often unknowingly but sometimes knowingly. Rules and restrictions are set in place to try to bridle and train the flesh, as if the flesh is who we are and therefore needs to be disciplined and managed. But the flesh is not who we are. We are wild creatures, not meant to be domesticated and caged, but meant to live as free beings. We need not worry about taming the flesh (nor can we do it anyway) when we are living as the (super)natural sons of God that we truly are.
In the song Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants, Adam cries out, "I feel beneath the white there is a Redskin suffering from centuries of taming." When I first wrote about this three years ago, I interpreted those lyrics this way: "In the song, it’s as if Adam is saying that beneath his modern day white man’s skin, there’s an Indian Warrior hidden deep inside, dying to get out, but yet he suffers because he’s been tamed by many years of white man’s culture."
To translate this into life in Christ, I feel that by trying to train the flesh through countless rules, laws, methods, principles, restrictions, disciplines, etc, the modern church has stifled the true living out of the wild (unfettered, free) life that God created us to live. The teachers and preachers of all this may even have the best of intentions, but the best of intentions will never change the fact that we live from our union-life with God, not from a list of do's and don'ts and from our attempts to live by principles for good Christian living.
This became ever so clear to me a few years ago when my wife and I hit a very low point in our marriage. I wrote more in-depth about it in the article from three years ago, but for now I'll just say that Motown recording artists The Supremes sang about our problem 40 years prior to it happening. "Baby, baby, where did our love go?" Now here's the thing. We weren't angry with each other. We weren't fighting. There was no animosity. But where did the love go? The answer lies in some other lyrics that I'm pretty sure I'm taking out of context, but nevertheless they fit here. In the song Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty sang, "You used to think that it was so easy; You used to think that it was so easy; But you're trying, you're trying now."
Turns out that that truly was the problem. "Love" had become hard, and even an impossibility, all because I was trying to love my wife. Before I had come to know all the 'rules' for love and marriage, love had been easy because I had been devoted to her and not to rules for loving her! But then what happened was this. Week after week, month after month, year after year, the church (good-intentioned teachers and preachers) kept on giving me rule after rule, method after method and principle after principle for "how to be a good Christian" and "how to be a good husband." And truthfully, it's not as if it was bad stuff. I really wanted to be all those good things for my wife. And so my focus slowly changed from pure devotion to my wife to my own fleshly attempts to try to be a good husband, and the result was that over and over again, I found that I could do "good" for a while, but ultimately I would fail at living up to being the good husband I wanted to be.
I'll pick up on this, and how we began to overcome all of this, in Part 2.
The ever-eccentric Adam Ant performs on a Motown special in 1983.