Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome (Part 2) – Breaking Free Of Indoctrination

One of the things that I have thought long and hard about for the past few months is the whole issue of freedom. I am sure you would agree with me when I say that freedom is not simply exchanging one set of social rules for another. We can all smell the fear and systems of control behind the unspoken rules of our faith communities and social communities and we know that no matter how attractive the packaging looks, this too is not freedom. And yet in spite of this God-given compass for freedom, we always seem to prefer slavery to rules instead of freedom. Our journey always seems to lead us back to the same place we think we’ve left.

It is into this conflicting construct that we must place Jesus. Jesus brings his message of freedom and liberty to a people that were oppressed on two sides. On one hand, they had the Roman imperial power in all it’s might and terrible glory. Rome was not a benevolent master. Rome was to be feared and would not suffer the rebellion of the people of this notorious part of the empire. On the other hand, they had the Priestly aristocracy, the Torah, and the complicated social and spiritual rules that came with them. For the people in Jesus’ time, it was a question of choice between one oppressor and another and it is into this construct that he starts to present a new construct called “the kingdom of God”.

The Kingdom of God was a marvelous concept – a third option – that Jesus puts before the people in his time to help them see that they could move into a wonderfully new construct that was not simply about the afterlife, but that could be lived out here on earth. No longer did you have to be faced simply with the controls, rules and oppression of either master, but rather, you could find a new path in which he, Jesus, was Lord and in which the yoke was easy and the burden was light.

Isn’t this what freedom truly is? Realizing that your choices are not simply one system of control VS another, but rather a third option in which those that the Son sets free are free indeed. Realizing that even though you are in the world, you are not of this world and so you can rise above the simple constructs that rules create. Realizing that you can abandon the appearance of perfection because you are accepted just the way you are – flawed, broken and yet somehow perfect in the eyes of he that made you.

You know what the true scandal of Jesus’ teachings is? It is the fact that even though he preached freedom, he was crucified. Even his disciples were imprisoned and killed and the Jerusalem church that he established was completely destroyed when every trace of Jerusalem was ground into the dust in 70 AD. But therein lies the true beauty of the freedom that Jesus offers in his proposition about his kingdom.

The beauty is that though it may seem like you are bound by a system of control, freedom is not what appears on the outside, but what is really on the inside. So even though on the outside it may seem like you are bound by your obligations to government or society, the truth is that freedom is not an outward appearance, but an inner persuasion. This why Paul, writing years after his conversion, can tell slaves to obey their masters. He is not promoting slavery as the church has said he might have been. To Paul, the appearance of slavery is not real slavery. Obviously it would be GREAT to not have to be sold from one master to another, but even though you are sold to slavery, you can live free because freedom is inside you and cannot be simply taken away by physical chains.

But sadly, it can be taken away by mental and spiritual chains. It is so easy to remain enslaved and to crave the construct of slavery even when you are set free. You can see this in the stories of humanity – from the Israelites preferring slavery in egypt to freedom in the desert, to the people in Stockholm defending their abductors. You can see it as people spiral back into addiction after working hard to get clean and sober and you can see it as people that are freed from modern-day slavery turn around and become traffickers in an underground global business that put them through hell. The saddest of all, though, has to be in the Church. You can see people come to Jesus and be handed a physical and spiritual freedom that they could have never known and still never truly walk in the breadth and depth of the freedom they have been handed preferring, instead, to willfully enslave themselves through guilt, fear, judgement and condemnation.

However, there is hope. In the face of this, you can see traces of what Jesus was really trying to say about freedom being a matter of the heart. You can see it in the determination of the north american slaves that overcame impossible odds to fight for a concept that only existed in their heads. You can see it in the unbreakable spirit of victims of abuse and addiction that may come out with broken bodies, but astonishingly unbroken spirits. And you can see it in the followers of Jesus and especially in Paul as he writes: we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; cast down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

I believe that as followers of Christ, we have to honestly ask ourselves a couple of deep questions:

Are you really free or have you traded one system of control for another?

Are you a staunch defender of the rules that both you and other people in your faith community find oppressive, baffling and sometimes downright outrageous?

Do you find yourself wracked with guilt over breaking the rules that your faith community has created, but are not really found in scripture?

Are you exhibiting the signs of a spiritual Stockholm Syndrome all the while not realizing that you are defending the same construct that seeks to control you?

Are you still a victim of a rigid matrix offering an illusion of freedom, but not really giving it?

Are you a defender of a system of benevolent legalism rather than a champion for freedom?

I believe that in Christ we can really be free. We can be free from slavery to sin and slavery to our religious indoctrination. There is a third choice ahead of us – true freedom that can only be found in christ. You can really, REALLY be free.

Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome (Part 1) – Breaking Free Of Indoctrination

On August 23rd 1973 a man called Jan-Erik Olsson strolled into Kreditbanken in central Stockholm, Sweden, and single-handedly held the place up. After a brief altercation with two policemen, he took four hostages, locked them in a bank vault, and started making demands asking for his friend, money, guns, bullet proof vests and a fast car. Over the course of the next few days, something strange started to happen between the hostages and their captors. The hostages started emotionally bonding with their captors. It was especially noted during a conversation between one of the female hostages and the prime minister of sweden. (Wikipedia)

Other hostages turned sympathetic as well, later saying that they thought Jan was perfectly lovely. One claustrophobic even expressed gratitude that the men allowed her to leave the vault as long as she had a rope tied around her neck like a dog!

This is crazy stuff!

The term “Stockholm syndrome” was coined by a criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot. He coined it based on his observation of this weird bonding of captives and captors that happened from August 23rd to August 28th 1973.

Now, Stockholm syndrome can also be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. So when a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, the aggressor ceases to be a threat.

Ok. Thank you Professor Paulo. What are you rambling on about?

I’ll do my best to explain

I do not know if your reaction to Church and christianity was similar to mine the more I realized the fine print behind what it is I had signed up for. We all know what it is like to come to the realization that a faith movement that claims to be about freedom is actually stifled by an unwritten code that is constantly changing. Many of us start out by resisting the unspoken rules, but more often than not, we give up on the resistance and accept the situation and eventually live in it so much that we start to defend it.

My own experience was that I was baffled by the arbitrary rules that my faith community placed on me. Honestly, sometimes it seemed like I had traded my freedom for slavery. The process of sanctification was not simply worked out by christ in me, but also by my adherence to a strict code of conduct which made room for only a miniscule amount of fun or… anything. For some reason, it seemed like the APPEARANCE of staying on the straight and narrow was more important than dealing with the heart issues that would help facilitate an inward transformation.

The weird thing is that the longer I walked this trajectory, the more I started to drink the koolaid. The more I was oppressed by the arbitrary rules of the faith movement I had signed up for, a weird S&M switch happened in me in which I started to both love and hate the construct. In the end, I became a strong defender of the rules and regulations that I was guilty about failing to keep never realizing the irony of the whole thing. And so like the bank employees in Stockholm, I started to exhibit a weird psychological bonding with the very things that I found so oppressive.

Have you noticed that part of the difficulty of bringing people to christ is the whole issue of freedom? It seems like being outside of Christ is a situation of greater liberty than being a member of his family. You see, the human heart cannot be deceived about freedom. We all know that we are trapped by our desires, by our social and political constructs, by our addictions and by our continued attempts to appear one way or another. So exchanging that construct for another in which we are trapped by a stifling set of rules designed to create in us something that only God can do is, frankly not attractive. This is why we have a hard time gaining traction with a world that has figured us out. They can see through the BS pitch and know that we who claim to have found freedom are, ourselves, not really free.

Lets be honest. How many people have abandoned their faith as they have made the transition from childhood, through teenage years to young adulthood? There are many, many reasons for this, but I think that one of the core reasons why Christianity has no staying power among young people is because many of them get tired of playing the rules game. Not all, but many of those that weather the storm end up buying into the rules game and become just like every one of us; a pseudo moral police imposing our opinion of morality and spirituality on a world that looks on in bewilderment. We’ve developed our own spiritual Stockholm syndrome and not even realized it.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.

Can You Really Be Free Or Is It An Illusion? – Part 3

Here is the third and final instalment in the discussion about freedom.

Why is true freedom found in christ? Very simply, because he paid the highest price to purchase it. He gave up his life in the most extravagant display of love – satisfying in his death the penalty for sin and breaking its curse by his resurrection. As we said at our last all-in sunday quoting from the 5th chapter in Paul’s letter to the Roman church that he planted, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

Romans 8: 1 – 17

Paul uses three metaphors in the passage above to help you understand the gravity of what Christ has accomplished. His first metaphor is that of the law court – condemnation and the law. Our conscious or unconscious pursuit of freedom has not only yielded no results, we’ve screwed up the people, countries and situations that we sought to emancipate and our wrongs outweigh the good we have done. As far as the law is concerned, we do not deserve freedom… we are condemned… apart from Jesus

The second metaphor he uses is the tendency in each one of us to serve our basic instincts. He eloquently refers to it as “living according to the flesh”. Our pursuit of the whims of our basic instincts makes us slaves to them and so the freedom that we thought would come by “living according to the flesh” was only an illusion because we simply take our lives out of whatever master they had before and put them squarely under the mastery of our basic instincts making us slaves to them. The only way out of living according to the flesh, enslaved by it, is to live according to the Spirit of Christ. Make no mistake about it, living according to the spirit of Christ is most definitely a situation of living under a master, but the difference is that Christ is a preferable master to our basic instincts because under his mastery, there is no condemnation.

The reason that he is a preferable master is captured in the third and probably most touching metaphor that he uses in this discussion on the nature of freedom. This is the metaphor of  adoption. Living in accordance with the Spirit of Christ elevates you from the status of slavery and vaults you into the assurance of sonship. The relationship between master and slave is what you have with your basic instincts, your noble causes and your physical and mental oppressors. The loving relationship of a parent and child is what you graduate into when you hand your life over to the mastery of Jesus because ultimately, he is not interested in being your MASTER… he wants to be your father. The word that Paul uses here to describe the relationship we graduate into when we leave slavery is “Abba Father” which literally means “daddy”. This ultimately is the nature of freedom that Christ offers us – like my daughter running towards me yelling “DADDY” and launching herself into my arms never doubting for a moment that I will catch her.

If I have a choice between slavery under the mastery of my instincts, causes, physical and mental oppressors AND a freedom characterized by that most intimate relationship between a loving father and his trusting child, it is a no-brainer.

This is why as adults, we talk with great nostalgia about the freedom of childhood. There is freedom in being care-free. There is freedom in trust. There is freedom in unconditional love. There is freedom in knowing that somebody else is taking care of even the most basic needs you have. There is freedom in living under the care and leadership of somebody that you know loves you no matter what.

If our flawed earthly love can provide this kind of freedom, how much more does the unconditional love of a perfect father and a perfect saviour free us? So when, as Christians, we talk about salvation, the salvation that we speak of is a salvation from overt and covert forms of slavery. The salvation that we speak of delivers us into the loving relationship with the person that purchased our salvation. Jesus Christ is the only person that could purchase this salvation and even to this day he offers it to us. Walking in this freedom starts by accepting it. And here is the thing… accepting it will require a leap of faith as your first step, because faith is the key that will unlock the door to the freedom that can be found in Jesus

Will you leap?

Can You Really Be Free Or Is It An Illusion? – Part 2

We continue our discussion about freedom and whether it is a possibility or simply an illusion not worth chasing.

If we are to be truly honest with one another, when we talk about freedom, what we are really talking about is substituting external masters for our own internal, subjective ones.

While this may seem like freedom initially, the truth is that we are not very good masters of ourselves. As we pursue the things that we think are right or noble, or simply what we want, we inadvertently end up recreating a world in which the oppressors we fought so hard to bring down rear their heads in new and more sophisticated ways. The causes that start out as noble or benign can quickly become dictatorial masters with little regard for those that may disagree or have separate causes. The personal whims that seemed so small and harmless when we first started pursuing them can quickly become destructive forces tearing our lives and relationships apart.

In the end, we find ourselves back where we started. And so we must ask a simple, but tough question:


As a pastor, here’s where I am supposed to say, “You can find true freedom in the church and in christian community!”. But can you really?

I’ll be honest with you. One of the things that the church is going to try to sell you on as part of their pitch to bring you in the door is the whole concept of freedom. I’ve seen the pitch my whole life because I am a pastor’s kid and I know it inside out. This is what it looks like: Amplify an issue about humanity or a generic brokenness that can be found in each one of us, and then propose Christianity as the way out or the path to freedom away from the issue or brokenness. And yet if you’ve been a christian long enough, you know how it can sometimes feel like you left a situation of more freedom and entered an institution of less freedom – the church. You know how it can sometimes feel like all the fun stopped a few days after you prayed a prayer, went to a christianity 101 class and got handed a bible. You know how it can sometimes feel like you moved from  the weekend drunk tank to a maximum security, death-row establishment.

At churches we love our rules. Our arbitrary reactive policies based on the pet issue of the season. As pastors and gatekeepers, we defend these rules with every means possible – even the bible – all the while creating weekly gatherings obsessed with ever-increasing levels of legalism. Even though we who lead the church would go to great lengths to vehemently deny it, the sad truth is that many of us who are christians have at one point or another been a part of a faith community that is more concerned with the appearance of keeping the arbitrary rules of the group rather than following or obeying the bible. This is a sad, but unfortunate truth: what many churches are offering you is not real freedom. Instead it is a substitute master – their rules instead of yours.

Honestly, this is why I left Christianity for a while and even after returning to it, I nearly quit again 10 years later.

Here’s the thing we find when we really start pursuing freedom. Contrary to what we may really think about freedom being the desire to do what we want when we want to do it, freedom is not just simply a state of heart and mind, it is about who has mastery over the heart and mind.

Think about it, since most of us think that freedom is doing what we want, when we want to do it, we live our lives in service of our inclinations and instincts. They have mastery over us! Even in the corporate sense of the communities that band together for freedom, this concept still applies and so if your community does what it wants to, when it wants to do it, the community also exists in service of the collective inclination or instinct. And so, just like the individual, the collective instinct of the community has mastery over it. In the absence of external masters, both for the individual and the communities seeking freedom, the internal inclinations or group persuasion become substitute masters.

So we must face this tough truth. The concept of being free in the sense of being completely devoid of living in service to something or being under the mastery of something, somebody or some concept simply does not exist. The nature of humanity is that we are always under a master. Sometimes our masters are our physical captors, while other times our masters are our mental oppressors. Sometimes our masters are the noble causes that, in spite of their flawed nature stir us to action, while other times our masters are our basic instincts.

If this is true, then the concept of freedom is not so much about being devoid of mastery because this is impossible, but rather it is about the master that you choose for yourself. If you want to really be free, you have to substitute an oppressive master for an empowering one. YOU HAVE TO PICK THE RIGHT MASTER. At Pivot 613, we are persuaded that the master that offers true freedom is Jesus of Nazareth.
So to answer the question I asked earlier about freedom being an illusion, this is what I would say. If you want to create a version of freedom in which there are no masters – not even your basic instincts, you are pursuing an illusion. If, however, you desire a version of freedom that exists under a master that can really lead you to it, then the master you seek is Jesus. The freedom that any other master than him can offer you is an illusion as well!

This discussion continues in Part 3. Subscribe to the blog to receive an update when it and others are published!

Can You Really Be Free Or Is It An Illusion? – Part 1

As a child, I distinctly remember hearing a group of adults talking and saying something that made a huge impression on me. They were talking about the freedom of childhood. I think I was about 9 or 10 at the time and looking around at my life, I did not quite understand what they were talking about. I did not have that many freedoms at all. I had to get up between 5.30 and 6 in the morning, have breakfast and be out the door by 6.30 to make it to school – I walked to school. When school was done, I walked home, played for about 30 – 50 minutes, did homework, had dinner and went to bed.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

In my 9-year old mind, it seemed ridiculous that I had any semblance of freedom and yet here were a bunch of adults wishing they could be me again. IT WAS SO WEIRD!

As a 9 or 10 year old, when I looked at the adults in my life, they all seemed to do whatever they wanted. They went where they wanted to go, ate what they wanted when they wanted to eat, drove whatever cars they wanted, went to sleep when they wanted, and most annoyingly, made up whatever rules they wanted!

At that age, I thought that they were just blowing smoke. Being a grownup was, most definitely, a situation of more freedom than being a child or so I thought. And from that stage in life, I started to look forward to the day I would be an adult, completely free to live my life, shape the world as I wanted and do whatever I wanted when I wanted to do it.

These days I look back at my 9 or 10 year old self and laugh at him. I wish I could go back and tell him that the adults he overheard talking were not really blowing smoke. I wish I could go back and tell him that a day would come when I would wish to be him again. But I know that he will look at me, smile and nod, say “yes sir” and not believe for an instant that I am telling him the truth! To my mind at that age, being free meant doing whatever you wanted to do when you wanted to do it.

Many would argue that speaking about freedom only in the sense of doing what you want when you want to do it is a myopic view of it.

People that want to exploit the earth of her natural resources without paying any attention to the waste and damage they might cause desire freedom from regulation and tree-hugging activists trying to save whatever is left of our planet. People that want to maximize profits without regard to social responsibility desire freedom from the checks and balances that have been put in place to curb unbridled capitalism.

On the other hand, there are other people that are bought and sold into slavery in an underground global slavery market that desire freedom from their masters. There are those that wrestle with addictions and desire freedom from their substances of choice. People that are under the crushing weight of political oppression desire freedom from the despots that rule over them. People that live under systems that discriminate against them based on race, gender or sexual orientation desire freedom from these systems and the ignorance that perpetuates them.

So the proposition is that freedom is not just about the individual doing what he or she wants, whenever he or she wants to do it. Many contend that freedom is also subjective and is based on the perceived oppressor over your life or obstacle in the way of your intended goal.

People have lived their lives and died in the service of freedom – whatever subjective variation of freedom they give their lives to. We sing their praises from our podiums and pulpits, create monuments and national holidays in celebration of the lives that they gave because the concept… the idea of freedom is powerful, unifying and inspirational.

You know what the unfortunate thing about the fight for freedom is? Most of the time our hard fought freedom simply transfers our slavery from one master to another. When we demand freedom from one oppressor, we inadvertently substitute one despot for another.

The people who demand freedom from slavery very often and very easily find that the people who fought for their freedom bind them with chains of racism and discrimination.

The people who fought for freedom from colonial rule have found themselves under the oppression of tinpot autocrats that rape and pillage their countries.

The people who try so hard to break the hold of one addictive substance over their lives usually end up simply substituting one addiction for another.

The people who fight against racial, gender or sexual discrimination find that the fight against discrimination is like playing whack-a-mole as one prejudice is substituted by another.

But here is the REAL kicker. If you give some thought to the permeating thread that binds 98% of all human desire for freedom, you find one singular, unifying thing. In spite of our loud protestations, when we speak of freedom, what we are really saying is that we want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, with whomever we want to do it. So the instinct that I felt as a 9-year old is not myopic after all, it is a universal feeling. If you are careful to peel back all the layers in almost every case of freedom spoken of, lived in service of or died for, we are talking about a freedom to follow our internal wiring, our social or educational indoctrination, or our personal persuasion. We want to be free to serve ourselves.

Part 2 coming up soon


A Meditation On Freedom

My last three posts were about being “red-pill” christians, no longer satisfied with the dream state of having all the trappings of life as usual, business as usual, but instead awake to the reality of being so much more – taking Jesus at his word and following or pursuing his teachings to their logical conclusion.

Central to the matrix theme that the “red-pill” posts were based on and central to the message of Jesus is the whole concept of freedom. The idea, the concept of freedom, is one that people have lived and died in pursuit of for millennia. It is a concept that, even to this day, is not a reality for many people around the world.

Jesus lived and walked this earth at a fascinating time in history. Israel was under the oppression of the Roman empire and it is the Jews that first heard his strange teaching about the kingdom of God and about freedom. What we find as we read the stories in the bible about his teaching and the reaction to it is that not only was his message grossly misunderstood by both his followers and haters, his message was a lot more nuanced and timeless than they must have originally thought.

In particular, a refrain that we hear over and over again from Jesus’ immediate disciples is the understanding that the concept of freedom that he was proposing was a freedom from Roman oppression. It is easy to understand why they thought that this was what he was proposing. The Roman rule was the most obvious form of oppression in their day – second only to the oppression of their own religious system and so the concept of freedom must have automatically been attached to the desire for freedom from the political oppressors of the time.

In John 8: 21 – 41, Jesus has an interesting back and forth with his listeners on this very subject – freedom. In this passage, Jesus is both egging them on and trying to stretch their thinking to see that the concept of freedom that he is talking about is not one of physical chains, nor is it one of birthright. He is trying to level the playing ground to help his listeners understand that there is a different and more important form of slavery and of freedom. This form of slavery VS freedom has to do with the condition of one’s heart.

Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

Many would say that freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. So when people speak of freedom, what they are really saying is that they want to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to or with whomever they want. I’m pretty sure that if you press them on the issue, they would back away from it, but it is the sad truth.

And here is the unfortunate thing. Doing whatever you want whenever you want more often than not has nothing to do with making oneself or the world, for that matter, a better place. Rather it has to do with following every selfish whim that might pop into one’s head. This, unfortunately, is not true freedom. Instead it is a form of slavery in which you are bound to your basic instincts. I believe that this is what Jesus is talking about in the broadest sense when he says that everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

And so he proposes a different definition of freedom:

If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

This is a counter-intuitive definition of freedom. It is a definition that makes freedom NOT a right, but rather a gift. One that has nothing to do with acting, speaking or thinking as one wants, but rather acting, speaking and thinking as the one who set you free would have.

This is a simple and powerful proposition; that we are not free when we simply serve ourselves. Rather, we are free when we serve Jesus. Understandably, this is a tough and counter-intuitive message for our self centered nature as human beings and yet it is the truth. Freedom really has to do with mastery. Who is your master? If you are your own master, you are not really free. If your oppressor (physical, mental or spiritual oppressor) is your master, you are not really free either. However, if Jesus is your master, THEN you are really free.

While freedom can be narrowly reduced to the parameters of personal choice or external forces, there is a deeper persuasion that we all must come to. The one that Jesus proposes, and the one that Paul reflects on many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul pens a fascinating thesis about the nature of freedom in his letter to the church in Rome that he had planted and I am only going to read tiny portion of it from Romans 8:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

You see, freedom is contextual and not simply an idealistic principle. There is freedom from physical oppression, freedom from mental or spiritual oppression, freedom to participate in or abstain from social and political discourse, and, most importantly, freedom from the cycle of sin and self destruction.

If you look around at the society in which we live, it is easy to see that we are not really free. We have reduced the definition of freedom to a few basic constructs and yet many of us carry around invisible chains of slavery to more insidious masters. While we may have the appearance of freedom because of what you can see on the outside, our slave masters oppress us inwardly, in secret and in hiding. Breaking free of these oppressors requires more than self discipline, external intervention and willpower. It requires the courage and wisdom to realize that on our own, we are unable to free ourselves from our hidden oppressors. Our freedom is costly and the only one who has paid the price for our ultimate salvation from the oppression of sin is Christ and the really cool thing is that HE offers us this freedom, this salvation from our nefarious masters freely.

So just like the illustration of the matrix that I used in the previous posts in which I talked about being red-pill people, we have to realize that the difference between being asleep or awake, AND the difference between being a slave or being free. The difference is very simple because it has everything to do with the mind and heart and who has mastery over them.

Who or what has mastery over your heart and mind? Who or what holds the keys to your freedom? 

Take The Red Pill – Part 3

To catch up with this conversation, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of the “Red Pill” series. And, yes, I shamelessly ripped the title from “The Matrix”. Here’s Part 3:

I am blessed to be a church planter in Ottawa and the community of faith that we’ve planted is called “Pivot 613“. I believe with all my heart that God is going to open doors beyond our understanding and grow our community in ways that will astonish even those of us that set out to dream about it.

So I can say this without any pride knowing that I will have absolutely nothing to do with it:  One day Pivot 613 will have an awesome facility and enough money to purchase the kind of technology that will allow us to get our message out further, faster and better than we currently do it. One day we will have a cutting-edge youth ministry and a kids ministry that is the envy of every church in our nation’s capital. One day we will have multiple locations meeting around the city and other churches looking to us to learn from our models of communication, discipleship and congregation empowerment. But believe me when I say this: having a cool church with lots of cool toys and cutting edge innovation is not what being a red-pill follower of Christ is. Being the hip, cool movement in this city is not our motivation. Our motivation is the teachings of Jesus and so, being a red-pill person in a red-pill movement means so much more to us. It means taking the message of Jesus seriously.

So for us it is not enough for us to create the dream-state in which you have all the trappings of faith community and never really wake up to the reality that the trappings are not the real thing. It is not enough for us to simply SAY that we endorse and espouse the teachings of Jesus, but never really live them out to their logical conclusion. It is not enough for us to simply give of our time and finances to social justice causes when we feel it is convenient. It is not enough for us to simply say that we love people we disagree with when we will not stand to defend them from injustice, corruption and discrimination or love them long and hard enough to be able to share Christ’s love without being offensive.

For us, being a red-pill movement is being like Dirk Willems.

For us, being a red-pill movement is being a true neighbour as Jesus describes it.

For us, being a red-pill movement is doing our best to let Christ’s expensive and all-consuming love inspire us to show love in ways that causes people inside and outside the church to shake their heads in disbelief.

For us, being a red-pill movement is the rejection of fear, judgement and condemnation and embracing grace, mercy and love.

For us, being a red-pill movement is about defending the defenceless.

For us, being a red-pill movement is waking up from business as usual in the church

For us, being a red-pill movement is taking Jesus DEAD SERIOUS

For us, being a red-pill movement is encapsulated in the simple phrase – LOVE FIRST

Mahatma Ghandi – an Indian revolutionary who was inspired to peaceful revolution in part by the sermon on the mount from Matthew 5 – 7 once said something that cuts to the chase about being either awake or in a dream-state where following Jesus is concerned. This is what he said:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

BOOOOOM! There it is. If we are so unlike Christ, it is time for the sugar-coating to stop. It is time for our pathetic displays of piety to stop and the tough work of really being Jesus to a world that needs him to start. It is time to take Jesus seriously. It is time to take the red pill.

Here’s a passage of scripture in which Jesus speaks plainly about being a Red-Pill Christian: Matthew 7. Take a moment and read it HERE. You’ll see why He blows my mind. I’ve decided to follow him and take him seriously. No turning back! I’ve decided to take the red pill. I’m calling on you to take it with me.