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
What a wonderful word! It constitutes a short course in discipleship. But it is more than that. It is a declaration that discipleship is the only true path to freedom, to being all that you were meant to be. If you want that, then Jesus says the way is to become his disciple. This is the path to freedom. It is the only way to be all that you want to be.
Here Jesus tells us in precise detail how to be free. It begins with belief:
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him. They had not yet trusted him, but they had believed him. They had been intellectually grasped by his arguments and his words, but they had not yet committed themselves to him. Discipleship begins with belief; even intellectual belief; they were there at the door, at the first step.
Then, he says,
if you continue in my word. Listen to Jesus. Compare what he says with your own experience. Does what he says agree with what you have found to be true in living life? The test of any religion is not whether it is pleasing, or whether you enjoy it. The test is:
Is it true? Does it accord with life? Does it fit what is happening? Does it explain what is going on? That is the test, and that you can only establish as you continue in his word, as you think long and deeply, read fully and frequently. Jesus suggests here that when you do that something will happen to you:
If you continue in my word, you will truly be my disciple. If you read his word and you continue in it, somewhere along the line a crisis will occur. You will find that his words have grabbed you, and you will commit yourself to him, and then you are really a disciple.
Then, he says,
You will know the truth. What an objective! Everybody wants to know the truth. Nobody likes to be taken in by a con artist. What then is the truth? Again I come back to what underlies all of life: Truth is the nature of things as they really are. Truth is seeing through all the illusions, the dreams and the wishful thinking, all the facades and the unreal images, and getting down to the heart, the core, the reality—that which really is. That is the truth.
Finally, Jesus promises that when you launch into this program, when you follow him, hear his word, and continue in it, a wonderful thing will happen—
the truth will set you free. The truth will deliver you, permit you to be all that you were meant to be. What does it free us from? When we put it into practical terms, it frees us from all our hang-ups that keep us from being all that we were meant to be. To be hung up means you cannot move, that you are bound and limited by something, unable to free yourself. Hang-ups are the same for everybody, everywhere. Fear is probably the biggest one. Being afraid, worried, anxious, insecure, timid, constantly threatened by anxiety. Then there is anger or hostility, a hatred, aggressiveness and rage that keeps you striking out at everybody. Then there is guilt. Millions of people suffer inwardly from a terrible sense of failure, of shame about things in their past. Pride is another hang-up; a proud, aggressive, arrogant spirit that indulges in rank prejudice and bigotry; an aloofness and withdrawing from others, with its accompanying loneliness. Do you see how practical all these things are? This is what Jesus is talking about.
His wonderful promise is that there is a way out.
Bring them to me, he tells us.
Bring them to me. Listen to my words. Look at life as I see it and a wonderful thing will happen: there will be a change in you. You will be given a life that you never had before, and you will begin to be freed from your hang-ups. That is the promise of Jesus.
Lord, I want to experience the freedom you promise. Help me to continue in your word and learn your truth so that can be a reality in my life.
Do we passively accept worldly media's definition of 'freedom'? Do we seek first the Kingdom of God where we learn the Truth about who we are that sets us free?