Christianity: Freedom or a Cage?

by Larry Hehn on February 2, 2011

rabbit cageOver seven years ago, my family inherited a rabbit. The father of a neighboring family had been transferred from Canada to the United States. The family was moving within a week. They could not take the rabbit across the border with them. The option was to find a home for the rabbit or put it down.

So either I say yes to the adoption…or I’m a cruel, heartless bunny killer.

Welcome to the family, Princess.

We  now have an aging rabbit and two young cats. They adore each other. The picture here shows Roxie giving Princess some loving licks. Ok, she just might be tasting her, but they both seem to enjoy it and Princess is still in one piece.

cat licking a rabbit

Sometimes they like to play hide and seek. Princess will scamper around the room as the cats playfully give chase. Princess lets them know when she has had enough by returning to the safe haven of her cage. Even though the door remains open, the cats know that inside the cage is off limits.

This past weekend the cats and Princess got a little more lively than usual. After a few minutes of running around, she made a mad dash for her cage. As she leaped over the threshold I instinctively threw my arms in the air and bellowed (in my best William Wallace voice) “FREE-dommmmm!”

Then I suddenly realized the irony.

Princess found freedom in a cage.

Of course, my writer brain started working overtime with all the possible metaphors. It struck me that many view Christianity as a bunch of restrictions, a bunch of don’ts. Obstacles to fun. Nothing but a cage.

And there are those who feel quite liberated by the guidelines that Christ’s teaching sets up for daily living. They are the things that help keep us pointed toward right standing with God. Freedom.

What do you see when you consider Christianity: freedom, or a cage?

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael February 2, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Freedom for sure man.
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Larry Hehn February 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I like that perspective!

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Ben February 2, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Freedom, absolutely. Freedom to choose especially.

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Larry Hehn February 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Yep, the door is always open. Welcome, Ben!

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Bernadine Milley February 3, 2011 at 12:19 am

I think it depends on what’s going on in one’s heart and what one considers to be freedom and what the cage represents. When there’s been sin that I’ve wanted to get away with, then I feel the constraints of God’s expectations and requirements of me as a witness of Him. Other than those times, massive freedom from the scars, weights and bondages of sin! The freedom of knowing that nothing can separate me from the awesome creator of the universe who for His own purposes, chose me to be His daughter when I was in my mother’s womb. Freedom from the war wounds of my childhood. Freedom to learn to love, be loved, forgive and trust; sometimes over and over again. Freedom, freedom, freedom. Freedom to never let that pain and all the sin that came from it, reign in my life ever again. Knowing I have the freedom to choose whether I will give in to sin or to God. Now that’s freedom.

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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 12:26 am

Wow. Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Bernadine!

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eduClaytion February 3, 2011 at 7:42 am

You always come up with the greatest applications to everyday incidents. That’s how I know you have to be a good speaker. You’re a good thinker first. And I love the line about how the cat is really just tasting the rabbit. I would always wonder about the true nature of their relationship. Adopted friend or potential entree? 🙂
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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Wow, thanks Clay. Yes, I can picture Roxie and her cousin Mia repeating the mantra, “Rabbits are friends, not food!” We close the cage door at night just to be safe.

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Dustin February 3, 2011 at 8:03 am

Oh very interesting insight. Freedom for sure-in all things. But I really dig the idea of caging in some things: my thoughts (take them captive), my disciplines (faithfulness with sticking to a plan, etc), and accountability. I suppose when you flip it and realized that a “cage” can sometimes mean security, a home, warmth… those are some powerful things.
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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Yeah, it’s something I could (and probably will) meditate on for quite a while. I’m so thankful when God uses everyday happenings like this to reveal things to us. Thanks for your insight, Dustin!

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Jim F February 3, 2011 at 7:25 am

I see it as Freedom for sure, but also a cage is protection.

I think this next line makes sense – at least it does to me: If it were not for the boundaries of the cage the rabbit would know the freedom found there.
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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Yep. I had to think about it for a minute, but that does make sense. Nice observation, Jim!

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Moe February 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

Freedom!!!! From slavery to sin! Freedom from the world and freedom from my flesh.

And for crying outloud the owners should have gotten that bunny a visa. 😉

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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Ah, it all starts with one bunny visa. Then, next thing you know, all the Canadian bunnies are moving in and stealing all the jobs from the American bunnies… 😉

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Moe February 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

In that case, keep the bunnies in your neck of the woods! 😀

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Bernadine Milley February 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

I agree with your friends here. I can’t have any freedom from sin etc., if I am not in the cage, the fortress and refuge that is God Himself.
Thanks for providing a place where we can share our hearts Larry.

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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm

My pleasure, Bernadine. I feel very blessed to be part of such a great community.

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seekingpastor February 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

Freedom, no doubt. That is what grace produces.
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Larry Hehn February 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Yep, I’m a big fan of grace. Thanks, Matt!

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kristinherdy February 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I think you’ve hit on it, it’s freedom in the loving boundaries created for us. You and I must be on the same wavelength about that. I wrote this: http://messiahmom.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/locked/ a few months ago
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Larry Hehn February 4, 2011 at 6:39 am

Cool post, Kristin. Thanks for sharing!

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Chris February 4, 2011 at 12:41 am

There is freedom in Christ that is for sure. I like the idea of God as a safe shelter or cage to run to when the storms of life are chasing us, for in that is where we find safety, security and his loving arms to protect us. It’s when we choose to stay out there and go the battle alone where we become weak and wounded and Satan tears us apart.
We may have your cat’s twin. We have one that looks exactly like the grey and white, same markings, identical. Our cat’s name is Jasmine.
I really liked the way you drew the parallel. Nicely done.
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Larry Hehn February 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

Thank you, Chris. I think your view is spot on.

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Peter Graham February 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

I was at a retreat a few weeks ago. My friend Dr. Dobson (not the one you’re thinking!) opened the retreat with a time of devotion. He told of how his boys had played with action figures when they were younger, of how the action figures were completely involved in the story, but had no say in how they acted within the story. They were the puppets of the boys’ whims.

Then he spoke of how God gave us our freedom. He told of a time and place where sin didn’t exist – in Eden. He told of how the serpent was there and how sin came into being through the actions of both the serpent and of Adam and Eve. This is a familiar story – we all know it, even those who don’t believe know this story of creation.

Then Dr. Dobson spoke of how God gave us our freedom – by allowing the serpent to exist. You see, he explained, God could have killed the serpent and taken away the temptation that led to sin in the first place, but in so doing, he would have created a population of puppets.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in putting us within this cage of sin, God gave us our freedom – freedom to choose Him and be free for good.

Thanks Larry!

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Larry Hehn February 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Yep, though we may gripe about aspects of the cage, I’m sure we’d all prefer that to being puppets. Good illustration, Peter!

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