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Freedom, Security, and the False Trinity

Freedom and security have always been uneasy together; the things that secure us tend to bind us down, and those that free us often feel like risks. We are meant to be free enough to really love God and one another, but true freedom can happen only if we completely trust in God’s ultimate care for us. And to really trust God, we must begin to relax our grip and ease our concern about all the lesser sources of security to which we have become attached. This can feel risky indeed.

Little in our normal life supports really trusting God. All around us we see bad things happening to people, and, at least on our terms, God may not seem trustworthy at all. Our culture communicates that truly putting oneself in God’s hands is superstitious, irresponsible, even psychotic. “In God We Trust” may be inscribed on American money, but the money itself usually feels more trustworthy. In this world of daily experience, Jesus’ words about the lilies of the field can sound naive, even dangerous. Few if any of us are able to follow Jesus’ call for trust completely.

Instead, we assume that trust in God should be only a spiritual ideal, wistfully and distantly respected, but impossible to apply in the down-to-earth conduct of our daily lives. True spiritual freedom, we maintain, is something that we can consider after we have established our physical and relational security in the world. In our culture, the three gods we do trust for security are possessions, power, and human relationships. To a greater or lesser extent, all of us worship this false trinity.

Gerald G. May, M.D., Addiction & Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions (New York: HarperCollins, 1988), 32.

Let us be candid with ourselves. Yes, we are all idolaters. No one is exempt.

Further Reading: Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Timothy Keller (

Posted in Posts in English, Psychology, Spirituality, Worship.

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