Monday, August 30, 2010

Truth, Freedom and other birthrights . . .

For some reason, I am not feeling like I have a lot to say today.  But I do want to talk a little bit about the gospel passage from John 8, or at least the last two verses of it:
31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
The ending of the chapter, in verse 32, is pretty well known.  It is usually said a little differently, something to the effect of, 'you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.'  Semantic differences, and not a big deal.  
What is a big deal, I think, is that we usually take that verse (32) all by itself, without the context of the rest of the chapter, the passage or even just the verse before it.  I think when we do that (and I think we end up doing this type of thing a lot, but that is maybe for another day) it can lead to a limited or even worse completely misinformed understanding of what is really being said.  
In this case I think it looks something like this: we hear that we 'will know the truth . . . and be set free'.  And we begin to think that this is a foregone conclusion, a certainty or some sort of right.  We think that simply by saying that we 'believe in God' or by darkening the door of the church on a Sunday morning that we are entitled to and will, without a doubt, receive both 'freedom and truth'  
But, ironically enough, the 'truth' is not that simple.  And this is where the context becomes so important.  Even if all we do is read the verse immediately prior we can see that there is more to it than simply getting what we 'deserve' or are entitled to.  
For in verse 31 it reads, 'if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples'  and it is to his 'true' disciples that Jesus is promising truth and freedom.  So for us to receive the freedom and truth that we are so interested in we must continue in the Word of Jesus Christ.  
The word continue is interesting because it runs counter to so much of what we look for or expect.  This isn't about a one-time thing that we will then reap the benefits of.  
To receive freedom and truth we must be in relationship with Jesus Christ.  To receive freedom and truth we must be actively engaged in the Word of God written (the Holy Scriptures).  To receive freedom and truth we must be seeking to continue in and abide by the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ.  
This isn't about a one-time transaction, but instead the receiving of freedom and truth is about what happens when we are actively engaged with and involved in a real relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.  

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