The American Church & Its Stockholm Syndrome

The Church Needs to be Set Free from Stockholm Syndrome!

Fear and intimidation give way to compromise and manipulation. The fear-wracked soul is too preoccupied with its present distress to hear truth, even if it comes from someone who loves them. Fear immobilizes but faith has movement.

The hideousness of fear and its blatant objectives make it easy to rouse a people who desire to move from where they are to where God calls them to be. When people can see their enemy clearly and when they are sensitive to the discomfort of their bondage, they long for freedom but like the frog in the kettle, what happens when we become accustomed to captivity?  How do we communicate fear’s insidiousness to a people who want to remain immobilized?

In 1973 there was a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden where many hostages were taken. After the ordeal was all over the hostages refused to testify against their captors. They had developed an affinity or a kinship with those who threated to steal, kill and destroy. Though rare, this condition is now referred to as, “Stockholm Syndrome.” It refers to an unnatural bond and affection some hostages develop for their abductors. This is a difficult question, but I want you to prayerfully consider it; “Am I addicted to my captivity? Do I have an affection for my apathy?”

We live in a society of people who long, not for freedom but for comfort and unconsciousness. This is also true for the church and it explains the success of many modern mega ministries. Search your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to show you where you’ve compromised because you’d rather not fight. Is there an area in your life where you prefer defeat over the rigors of freedom? Conservative commentator and Jewish theologian, Dennis Prager, in a speech to High School students in Washington D.C. said;

The human being responds naturally to leftism, not Americanism. Leftism is more natural. It says the state will take care of you. More people are interested in being taken care of than in being free. Liberty is not a universal yearning. Liberty is a value. … People think everyone wants to be free. If everyone wanted to be free, then there would be a lot of United States of Americas around. They don’t. They yearn to be taken care of. Americans yearned to be free.

Politics aside, this statement accurately describes our hidden inner longings. Liberty is not the natural state of fallen men and the success of a consumer-based civilization is predicated on man’s desire to unplug and be cared for. The American culture today speaks to our baser instincts of fear, lust, or anger and sells us knee jerk reactions. We are not asked to think, or to consider, or to be in the moment. We are asked to respond to a tantalization of our viler senses. I often wonder if today’s fascination with zombies is our own subconscious awareness of this mindless state we find ourselves in.

We’re lulled into a sleep that is undetected because we’re still able to move around, however our movements are all instinctual instead of thoughtful. Many are just living robotically from one purchase to another. Why do we allow this? Fear. We’re afraid of making a mistake. We are afraid of not being loved. We’re afraid of failing. Afraid of being taken advantage of… The pressure is so overwhelming, we take any and every opportunity to turn off or shut down and forget about the failures of our past or the impending responsibilities of our future. Cowardice keeps us asleep. We need an awakening!

Weakness keeps us asleep (or at least in bed with the covers over our heads). This is why Christianity is perceived as being difficult. We have a natural aversion to true religion because it demands an awakening. The Cross demands a long awkward glance in the mirror and then prophesies that you won’t like what you find. William Gurnall said, “it takes more courage to be a Christian than a captain in an army.”

Christianity is at war with the world around you as well as with the world within you. In order to win, the first casualty has to be you (Galatians 2:20). The carnal Christian, without warfare awareness, is asleep to the dangers of his sinful state. Like Samson we’re not taken captive by the Philistines, but by the hidden sins of our own hearts & the philistines are just there to reap the benefits of our carnality.

Unfortunately, today we have no hostility with the world around us. We aren’t at odds with our culture anymore and perhaps this is why the youth of this generation has no interest in our services. They are looking for a fight and so turn away from a pacifist church longing for the comradery of the fox hole. Some find their place in false religions, but more find it in false beliefs. Today’s political parties often make for a dangerous substitute of the Divine with their moral grandstanding and pompous leaders. Christianity demands love and virtue but the platforms of these parties have no moral compass providing an atmosphere where near religious devotees can give excuse for anything, so long as the ends justify the means. It’s time to give this generation something to fight for…or against.

It's time to break free from the comfort of fear, repent of our love for it and speak up for the freedoms we hold dear... before it's too late. 

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