Freedom is a hot commodity these days. I guess it always has been. There’s lots of talk these days about helping people find freedom from oppressive governments, from economic hardship, from worries about healthcare, etc. I’m sure if you think long enough you can think of things you need freedom from. For me, it’s freedom from cheeseburgers and pizza (or at least freedom from the craving for such things). Ultimately we all need freedom from our own sin, our mistakes, the tendency to sin and make mistakes, the guilt from past poor decisions, and the shame due to rebellious and immoral choices.
Jesus said this in the gospel of John (8:31-32):
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.”
The truth will set you free. These days I often hear this understood as an encouragement to read the Bible – so we can know the truth and we can know how to live. I don’t disagree that the Bible reveals to us God’s truth. But, it is not the words and the instructions that set us free. The truth is not words in a book. The truth is a person.
Recall this in John 14:6a…
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life…”
The truth is Jesus. The Bible is the story of God’s revelation in and through Jesus. The Bible is a book that is true and it points us to the truth. To read the Bible and do what it says and seeing that as living in truth would be like reading the instructions for the oven, cooking the food but never eating the meal. The gift of God’s written word is that it points us to the truth – the Word that became human, Jesus. On the one hand we could follow the instructions in the Bible and be good moral people and even be properly religious people. But, the purpose of living life according to those true instructions is to allow us to live more fully in the presence of Jesus Christ. The closer we draw to him the more real freedom becomes in our lives.
As I thought about this the other day I realized I was off track in my faith journey as a disciple and as a pastor. The phrase I uttered as I talked to God about it was this: “I seemed to be engaged with what is true and not so engaged with You.” I found myself more focused on knowing and understanding what is true than I have been on knowing God and living with Him in the moment. the former is more about how I understand things in my head, the latter is how I live with God from my heart.
So, my encouragement to you is this: read the Bible and let it reveal to you God’s truth – the truth found in Jesus Christ. He reveals to us God’s truth – that God loves us so much He is proactively working to draw us closer to Him. It is the truth that says we are forgiven for our past sins and guilt and shame. It is the truth that says we can be transformed into holy people as we live our life with God from our hearts. It’s the truth that says it’s not so much what you know but who you know that brings freedom.
I pray you will be free – and that’s the truth.
Holy high five to you, Mike