After hundreds of years of accusations and arguments, a shift is happening between Catholics and Protestants. As both churches focus on social justice issues, there is common ground forming. Pope Francis has a 60% approval rating among evangelicals. Regardless of doctrine or culture differences, Protestants are beginning to remember that the Catholic church had a rich history of being the primary representation of Christ in our world for hundreds of years.
I am a protestant evangelical with no desire to convert to Catholicism, and there are a number of Catholic traditions that I protest. Still, I have deeply enjoyed reading books by great Catholic authors like Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, and Jacques Philippe. These men write about spirituality as men who are intimate with God. I recognize them as brothers though I’m sure we disagree on many things. That is how families usually work.
I recently read Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe. It challenged me and changed me. If you are trying to follow Christ but get frustrated by people or circumstances or your own shortcomings (does that cover all of us?) then you need to read this book.
Jacques Philippe believes that Christ has made it possible for us to live in freedom. Ultimately, we grow into that freedom by expanding our ability to express faith, hope, and love. Philippe describes interior freedom as someone who can experience the goodness of God in the midst of any circumstance. In his words:
“We show the greatness of our freedom when we transform reality, but still more when we accept it trustingly as given to us day after day.”
Freedom may give us rose colored glasses, or it may give us the strength to live in an ugly world without any rose glasses at all. We all have choices when it comes to dealing with difficult situations. Philippe says we can Rebel, Resign, or Consent. Many Christians know it is futile to rebel against reality, but consider it godly to resign to whatever may be plaguing. Philippe challenges the idea that resigning to God’s reality is not the ultimate act of freedom or piety because it holds no hope. The aim is for consent. Consent is when someone can “say yes to a reality we initially saw as negative, because we realize that something positive may arise from it. That hints at hope.”
Philippe emphasizes seeing everything as a gift from God. Good things, bad things, even our own spiritual growth towards maturity. In light of that, difficult circumstances are not God withholding gifts from us. Some dark times are a time we rely on God’s gifts more closely, some dark times may end up being a gift in hindsight.
No human being or Satan himself can rob us of God’s grace in our lives.
You may have good reasons to feel deprived of having a good parent or good education or good leaders at your work or for your country. As Philippe points out “Disappointment in a relationship with someone from whom we were expecting a lot (maybe too much) can teach us to go deeper in prayer, in our relationship with God, and to look to Him for that fullness, that peace and security, that only His infinite love can guarantee.”
This book explores the invitation to freedom and how freedom is expressed through countless stories and words of wisdom, including the topics of:
- Accepting ourselves
- Allowing God to accept us
- Accepting other people
- Accepting suffering
- Being available and interruptible
- Pride and true humility
All of this in the smallest, thinnest book I have read this year. There are only 134 pages and the font size and spacing makes it a very quick read in theory. I took three days to read this one because what it lacks in length it certainly makes up for in depth- there were a few times I needed to set it down and think and pray.
If you want to be free from insecurity, bitterness, pride, or the desire for control so that you can grow toward God in faith, hope, and love then READ THIS BOOK.
I’d love to hear what you think after you’ve read it!