Celebrate Portland – Jon Furman


First up this week is Jon Furman or on Twitter you can find him @Furmania. Originally from the *661 in SoCal,  Jon is married and works as a pastor at Willamette Christian Church in West Linn, Oregon.  Jon grew from a precocious child into an arrogant teenager.  Later he says he was a selfish young man & bad student. “I was a comprehensive and unmitigated failure.” But, by, through, and for God’s grace and mercy, I’m becoming the man he intended me to be before the foundation of the world. You can read more about Jon on his blog at http://www.furmanifesto.com/

When I leave town my wife spends time catching up on all of the projects and goals she’s had to shelve because of her busy schedule.  Without me there, she uses her free time to attack a fairly long list of ventures.

This results in a flurry of activities and accomplishments.  I’ve often come home from a weekend speaking engagement to find repainted and reappointed rooms, clean windows, clean dogs, and clean pores… hers not mine.

When she leaves town, I also use the free time to catch up on things I’ve had to put off.  These things include, but are not limited to, the watching of movies that feature explosions, the watching of sports without talking, the eating of chips and donuts, and the feeling of gross after only three hours without her.

My weekend consists of lying around on couches in unclean garments, un-bathed and unshaven.  She often returns home to find dishes in rooms that shouldn’t facilitate eating, overdue movie rentals, and an orange-tongued dog that served as my Cheeto washcloth.

Sometimes we receive times of unfettered liberty.  What we choose to do with those moments speaks volumes about who we are and what we value.

Liberty is incredibly important to Americans, so much so that we have a statue celebrating it.  Unfortunately we tend to forget that liberty is always earned.

During its early years, America earned its freedom during a series of conflicts with various European powers.  Each of these conflicts remained fresh in the memory of the individuals who had participated in them, helping them to remember the purchase price.

While the freedom to do as we please is essential to the American experience, we also understand that freedom is only beneficial for a society when that society’s individuals understand that liberty walks hand in hand with responsibility.

Remembering freedom’s purchase price helps us behave responsibly when it comes time to interact with our liberty.  When something we love carries a weighty price tag, we tend to treat it respectfully

In his 1946 book Man’s Search For Meaning, concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl suggested that America’s East Coast Statue of Liberty be supplemented with a Statue of Responsibility on America’s West Coast… because celebrating one without the other leads to abuse.

As a man in the freest society the world has ever known, I have the opportunity to live as I want.  The question is whether or not I will live responsibly.

In America I am free to do any number of things under the law, regardless of whether or not they are righteous.  In my freedom I can choose to sin in many ways and not come under the reprimand of human authority.

Drunkenness, promiscuity, copyright infringement, gossip, and irresponsible wagering are not only acceptable but also encouraged by industry.

So who paid the price for my liberty?  For my human liberty, veterans like my Grandfather (Pacific theater) and My Uncle (USN) paid a price.

The innocent Son of God purchased my spiritual Liberty.  He paid a price that I couldn’t to set me free from enslavement to sin.  Because I didn’t pay it myself, I often take that liberty for granted.

When I do I find myself roaming the borderlands of sin, staying close to the edge, hoping to just dip my toe into some “harmless, mischievous iniquity”.  Maybe I talk terribly about someone who isn’t there or don’t change the channel right away when the Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on… It’s not like I’m drunk at a peeler joint right?

The truth is that the freedom Jesus bought me came at a price that included all levels of sin, not just the ones that I’m deluded into believing are the worst.  Whether my sin is Barney Fife silly or Don Draper devious, I’ve still used an expensive freedom irresponsibly.

Being a man, a leader of others, a leader of family, means understanding the responsibility that comes with freedom, and understanding responsibility means feeling the burden of the expenditure.

This is why we scold children for leaving lights on in the daytime and doors open in the summertime.  We don’t do it to make them feel guilty or ashamed of themselves, want them to feel the weight of the price tag.

When I understand the gravity of the divine outlay, I find myself diving headlong into my responsibilities as a leader and a family man.  I become grateful for my wife and position and I don’t just talk gospel, I live it.

My hand in matters isn’t forced by restriction; I’m enthusiastic about my responsibilities because of liberty.  I don’t do things because I’m supposed to; I do them because I get to.

Sometimes we receive moments of unfettered liberty.  Choosing to fulfill our responsibilities in those moments demonstrates how close we are to the person who paid the price for it.

What responsibility is his liberty calling you to?

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About Chris Goforth

West Coast Hipster Ninja husband and Papa- allowing Jesus to impact every aspect of my life while raising 6 kids, taking photos, being outdoors & playing Settles of Catan. View all posts by Chris Goforth

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