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Marketable Freedom

Spending four years of college in Nashville increased my limited exposure to the music industry. The idea of marketing preceding songwriting, and that songwriting was rarely the product of the singer performing the song, was a mildly disappointing reality. The same, of course, is true for authors who are pressured to write what people want to read rather than let their creative juices flow in the style and genre that most reflects their experiences and expertise. I suppose the same is also true of trying to sell one’s home these days…you are no longer selling your happy family abode to another grateful family, but using smoke and mirrors to become the living space the buyers most hope to call their own. The idea is to strip the home of all indications of the owner’s personality, hobbies, interests or creative touches so that it is most appealing to a potential buyer who might have totally different affections and preferences. I’m pretty sure that as mad as it makes me in real estate, it is pretty much exactly what I do all the time hoping to be marketable to this community or that. “Look at my awesome master bath and very updated kitchen which is really more updated than that other guy down the street and you’ll be much cooler and have a better life with what I have to offer.” Pick me! Pick me! I’m cooler, hipper, more influential and well connected, deeper rooted in the prestigious circle you value, spend my weekends and summers at socially “in” destinations…oh and on it goes. So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deut. 5:32 God has to tell me this because all I do is look to the right or to the left. I mean, what if the people to the left assume what I am doing looks really right winged or what if the folks to the right label me as one of the leftists? I’m a great house! I’m a song that should sell millions of copies! I must convince them that I am a bestselling novel! So, I will not do “this” because buyers don’t like that so much and I will do “that” (perhaps repaint) because buyers would recognize that as fashionable and trendy. I just can’t be mistaken for an outdated or undesirable house. The shackles are tighter and more constricting than I even realize because I am so used to them. Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Prov. 29:25 I am so easily snared by my fear of man. The need to be favorably viewed and perceived is too controlling in my heart. This need steals the joy of doing things that are morally neutral simply because the shame of someone else’s disapproval is often louder to me than the freedom and simplicity of living in God’s delight. For example: “You’re going to have all three children sleeping in one room?” Oh yeah, that is so weird isn’t it? Even though it works perfectly for us, I hadn’t realized how substandard it was. We really should move things around to remedy this abnormality. Oh the power and control of the fear of man. What is my hope for freedom from this constant pull to make myself marketable? Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 If wisdom is Jesus and my heart is to be his entirely, consumed with Him, trusting Him, delighting in Him and in His delight, seeking fullness of life from Him alone…how might my fear of man decrease if I knew how short the number of my days actually were? If I could really grasp the length of time of eternity (good luck) and how much more permanent my “real estate” in His Kingdom is, would I be so concerned with my marketability in this shorter season? Though the bedroom example is pretty silly even now, how will so many of the other ways I judge people and am judged by people seem in relation to our equality as His bride for eternity? My need to be perceived as desirable here and now is as strong as my own perception of this moment’s permanence. I need for you to know that I am an “insider” according to your particular standards to the extent that your particular standards have become more eternal than God’s eternal valuation of both of us. I can look down on you smugly and arrogantly the more I convince myself that my limited standards are more exhaustive than God’s. A former classmate of mine was interviewed on NPR about a movie he was in this year as well as about his particular love of blue grass music and the banjo. He referenced “the preppy high school” he attended with only those words. To the listening audience, that could be one of thousands of schools in the country. To the people who attend his high school, it is the most prestigious school in the country and what makes them more important than everyone who didn’t go there. What I live or die for in a really small context is not all that noteworthy in a larger context. How much more true will this be of the things that I do or don’t do based on my fear of man rather than God’s eternal perspective? When His glory is the only one that matters to every living creature, mine or the guy’s next to me genuinely won’t matter. Is it possible, in this season of limited perspective, to go ahead and enjoy the freedom from fighting for my own glory? Freedom will come when the glory that already belongs to Him is more satisfying to my heart than the constant grab for my own. “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31

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