Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The truth will set you free

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
- John 8.31-32

Now that's interesting. Why is John writing about "the Jews"? Aren't most of these people Jews? Jesus, Peter, James, and so on? Isn't this taking place in or around Jerusalem? Well, of course John knew that. I read somewhere (don't make me get up and find it) that John uses this word to mean the religious authorities.

So at this point, Jesus is telling some of the religious leaders -- ones who believed him! -- to hold to his teaching. That's the mark of a disciple... or maybe a prerequisite? Anyway, it's a Good Thing to do. Now what's that mean? Well, I'm thinking "out loud" here, but I think it means to believe, as our pastor said a while back, "that Jesus is smart." That when Jesus says something, I think it's important.

It means at least that, but it also means means more than that. In particular, it means I have to be willing to do what Jesus says. I have to obey him. He knows sometimes it's hard, but I have to give it a try, I have to ask him for help. I can't just give up and say, "Oh, Jesus must have been kidding."

And the benefits he offers -- he's not a despot, but a loving father -- are that truth is within reach! With truth comes freedom... freedom from what? From lies. Lies, especially unacknowledged lies that we believe, have power to keep us in prison. I'll write more on that later, but it suddenly hit me that the "release of captives" includes both physical captivity (as in kidnap victims, like all those women and children around the world forced into various kinds of slavery) but also captivity to lies. Lies like "I'll never amount to anything." Or "I'll never make a difference in the world." Or "God doesn't care about me at all."

Sometimes you think that, don't you? I sometimes do, so I think you might sometimes, too.

But God says something different. He is willing to fill us with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we can live a life worthy of him -- imagine that! -- and please him in every way -- wow! -- and that he'll give us strength to be patient.

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