Freedom is a gift not a right - John 8:31–36 (Reformation / Confirmation)
John 8:31–36 (Listen to Jesus and be set free.)
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
What is freedom? Are we as free as we think? Why do we have laws that curb our freedom?
Too often people get lost in the notion of freedom.
They lay claim to a truth only they can have.
They condemn and silence anyone who may think otherwise.
Truth is not relative – it is fluid – but it always remains truth.
Jesus calls people into a discipleship relationship with him.
Following him reveals truth.
This truth provides freedom.
We are called to experience the freedom God intend for us.
Following Jesus opens doors of hope.
The discipleship journey is not a burden, but an exploration of what God can do in our lives.
We need to regularly commit ourselves to this path of discipleship.
As we grow in our discipleship, we present to the world a new hope, and a freedom that is as God intends.
We live in a country that claims freedom. It claims that people are free to live as they wish, to work where they want, to enjoy life as they choose to, to relate to whoever we like, to marry who we want, to experience life as we desire. But is it true. We have rules, regulations, laws, legislation and governments that intentionally limit what we can do. So, we’re not free to drive down the freeway at any speed we like, in any vehicle we have, in any fashion we desire. We’re not free to take whatever we want without a fair exchange of goods and currencies. We’re not free to kill, steal, or act in any way that brings harm upon another person. The law defines our freedom, and living in a country like ours, we all agree to subject ourselves to these laws.
People get lost in the notions of freedom. They assert that true freedom is allowing them to act as they wish, while removing the same freedom from others who disagree with them. There is a battle about what is correct, true and right, and what others want us to believe is true, correct and right. Truth seems to be loosely associated not with facts, but with one person’s opinion over another. It’s not relative as some people assert, because we will quickly rise to defend ourselves if we think the truth is not being applied to us as we expect it to be. Truth is fluid, and it would seem we are not as free as we would think we are to lay claim to it.
Jesus turns truth upside down, and lays claim to it being only and fully associated with him and him alone. As he calls people into a discipleship with him, it is this intimate relationship that begins to discover the true freedom we all yearn to have. It is the freedom God created us with, yet we lost as we sought to supplant God with our own desires. It is a freedom to know the truth, and in knowing the truth be set free from all the things in life that oppress and inhibit us from being what God created us to be. The Jews who were following Jesus didn’t get this. They thought they were free already. But sin cripples and destroys freedom. It shatters relationships, it imposes shame and guilt, it shows us up as less than what we hope to be, it confuses, confronts, distorts, and abuses. The law exists to help find a way to live through this sin, but in the end, it doesn’t restore the freedom God created us with. Only Jesus sets us free. Only in a relationship with him do we find the grace and love to be truly free as God intended.
There is something special about having a relationship with Jesus. It opens doors of hope into our lives. It draws us out of ourselves and allows us to seethe world in a whole new way. The Christian path of discipleship is not one designed to burden people, it is designed to restore to them the freedom God intended for them. But such is only possible with Jesus central in our lives. It is only possible as we sit with Him each day, read the Bible, pray, meditate, confess, and be empowered by the Spirit to live as God intended. This is not an easy road, as many of the Jews who originally followed Jesus discovered. But then again, freedom, true freedom, is hard work. It comes as a heavy price, and demands constant attention, but in the end the truth it imparts draws us into new paradigms, new worlds, new experiences of grace beyond our imagination.
Today as our young people commit their lives to this ongoing journey of discipleship, it is good to remind us that our journeys are not over. We too are called to renew our commitment to follow Jesus. We too are called to sit and listen, and to discover the truth that set’s us free. A truth that is lived out, not spoken, that shapes our lives, not demands change in others, that transforms us into the image of the one who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. It is this life of discipleship, the discovery of the truth found in Jesus, that we bear witness to each day of our lives. It is a truth that the world needs to hear, it is a freedom they yearn to know. As we follow Jesus, so we open the possibility of others joining us under the grace of our Lord.