Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. (Galatians 5:1 Good News Bible)
If you haven’t seen The Stepford Wives, particularly the remake, here is a basic plot summary. Matthew Broderick is married to Nicole Kidman. She is a corporate executive in general, and the CEO of EBC, the top-rated network in the television market. She has come up with some new ideas for TV shows and, needless to say, they are bad. One of them is entitled and it is made so that happily married couples can go to an island and spend time with other people and then the woman can decide to stay with her husband or leave him and say, “I can do better!” This show separated a family and the husband comes in and attempts to kill her. Kidman is fired from her position and has a breakdown. Broderick and Kidman move to a gated community in Connecticut. Here, kidman finds out that the women are actually being controlled by their husbands via remote control. She does a quick internet search and finds that all the women in the community used to be big-wigs: corporate executives, presidents of companies, and members of Congress. Their husbands brought them to this place and, when the women refused to change, took them with them to the men’s association meetings where Mike (Christopher Walken) has the women go through a machine that makes the women perfect, cookie-cutter images of a 1950’s housewife.
I think there is a profound lesson for us as followers of Jesus in this film.
So often, we want to make every Christian a cookie-cutter image of whatever we think a Christian should look like. For the Baptist, they try to make a good Baptist; for the Catholic, a good Catholic; for the Pentecostal, a good Pentecostal. We try to force people to fit our mold. And when we can’t, we try to find was to force it upon them. We may use fear (“You’re gonna go to hell if you don’t stop drinking”), or we may use coercion (“If you accept Jesus into your heart today, you’ll get so many blessings”). Whatever the case may be, we do whatever we can to make people fit our mold of what a Christian should be.
We also have this tendency to add burdens to people when they get saved. No longer does being a Christian mean being like Jesus, but now it means that one must vote a certain way, dress a certain way, believe certain things about abortion, etc. We tell people who they can and can’t hang out with and we limit the ways that they can share their newfound faith with their friends to a few simple laws or a certain speech with a certain prayer at the end that you make at a certain location. But where is the freedom?
According to Paul, Jesus has set us free. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say,
Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. (Galatians 5:1b Good News Bible)
We are literally commanded to live as free people. This is not an option. We are not given the choice between be free or live under the laws of man. No. We are given freedom and commanded to use it. It’s kind of ironic. This reminds me of something that Jesus once stated about the Pharisees.
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. (Matthew 23:4 ESV)
This sounds like much of what happens today within Christianity. We are all guilty of it. Every one of us. Even me. Now, there is nothing wrong with telling people to do what Jesus said. The problem comes when we add to those demands with rules of our own to the neglect of that which Jesus actually commanded.
And [Jesus] said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)– then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”(Mark 7:9-13 ESV)
God has not called us to be Stepford Christians who are controlled by the powers that be as if we are robots. We have been called to lives of radical, freedom-giving obedience to Jesus’ commands. Jesus never programmed His disciples to act in certain ways or say certain things and only watch certain movies. He told His disciples to love God, love each other, and have abundant life. A full life does not involve bondage. Not even to our own religion.
I want to live like a free man. I want you to live like free people. Like the Bible states.
If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the Law. (Galatians 5:18 Good News Bible)