I offered an invitation to some Selah companions to reflect on the phrase “inner freedom” and then lend their voice to these reflections for our consideration and encouragement. Here is a reflection from Merrie Carson:
As a dispersed community of contemplative companions, we share a common set of values and commitments as we live into the way of Jesus through this common purpose: To invite all people to pause and to nurture contemplative experiences with Jesus, leading to inner freedom and loving service.
As I was reflecting on Selah’s mission statement and the experience of “inner freedom,” I asked myself what prevents me from experiencing the inner freedom Christ promises and what draws me towards it? Two phrases came to mind: “slavery to sin” (Romans 6) and “the beauty of holiness” (Psalms 29:2; 96:9). When I recognize that I am in slavery to sin of some sort, my experience is that my mind is in turmoil, gnawing away, trying to free itself from the frustration and pain that the sin is causing. There is no inner freedom. If I ignore it, it seems to get worse, but if I take the time to be still, think, pray, and listen, clarity eventually comes and I begin to understand the root of my bondage. Then I can ask Christ to free me from it and begin to make changes to deal with it.
But this isn’t enough. Being freed from bondage to sin, has to be followed by being filled with Christ. The danger is that I will become like the man possessed by an unclean spirit who, once it was cast out, finds that seven more plus the original spirit have moved back in to his life because his “house” was unoccupied (Matt 12:43-45). I’ve found that meditating on the “beauty of God’s holiness” draws me into the freedom and fullness of Christ that I seek. “The Beauty of holiness” is an odd phrase, because I don’t usually associate holiness with beauty. Instead I connect it with law, duty, blinding light, and judgement. But what if holiness really is beautiful, life-giving, and freeing? What if as I seek holiness I am truly seeking to be the authentic person God has created and destined me to be? As I look at Jesus in Scripture, I see a loving, truth-filled man of great internal personal beauty because he is holy, set-apart for God, and the beauty of his holiness draws me to follow him more closely and deeply. May we all be drawn more closely to the One who truly loves us and frees us from slavery to sin as we gaze upon and worship the beauty of his holiness.
Thank you Merrie.
Peace and love to you all this good day,