The Bare Soul
December 9, 2012
8:31-32 - So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you
continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the
truth, and the truth will make you free.”
In my early youth, there was nothing I enjoyed more than spending time with my dad. Didn't matter what we were doing, I just liked being with him. I remember one summer when he had promised me a week with him on the road and how disappointed I was when he had to cancel. He was working a sales route up in South Dakota, and more than see a state I had never been to, I just wanted to be with my dad. He took me later that summer to Kansas which was still good, but I still remember the huge disappointment of the initial letdown. As I grew older and more cynical, I was less enamored about spending time with the "old man" as I would call him behind his back. During my rebellious teens, the more he would tell me what to do, the more I tried to do just the opposite. While it still bothered me to disobey him, I nonetheless wanted to do what I wanted to do. My troubled feelings were not enough to keep me from following my own selfish desires which eventually aided my addictions.
While my father was not a godly man, he nevertheless tried to live morally and understood the consequences of where my behavior was taking me. No amount of talking or cajoling to behave differently really mattered. It was not my final concern if it broke my parents hearts. Often, it would cause me great consternation that I was upsetting them, but I was still going to do what I wanted to do. Because of this rebellious attitude, it would take years to undo the mess of not listening to sound advice and living destructively. Occasionally, I would listen and make a pittance of change but it would never last. I was not ready to listen to wisdom on a daily basis which could change the course of my life.
Likewise, throughout the Gospels, we see continual instances of those who wanted to live according to their desire and yet reap the benefit of being called God's children. However, Jesus was always quick to point out they could not pick and choose how they were to follow God. It is understandable why Jesus told the Jews in our lead verse the importance to continue in His word. It does not matter if they took what seemed like a clever saying of a great teacher and sought to apply it in some abstract manner. The Lord wanted them to know the importance of not selectively reasoning His sound bites in their minds, but to take all of His words to their hearts. In Jesus' admonition, truth that ultimately sets people free is that which a person allows to become an active dialogue within. Passing from the brain to the heart, it becomes the Living Word within that changes thought and action. The result is the demonstrative expression of their desire to embrace not only the message, but the Messenger. This is the definition of a disciple, to bring oneself under the discipline of the Teacher.
discipline of Jesus' statement to the Jews is profoundly rigorous. Undoubtedly,
some desired to just take bits and pieces of Christ without accepting everything
He required. Like these, we might be just as eager to accept the promises of God. However, it is
often easy to take a promise out of context or without its conditions. Jesus'
words here are a wonderful promise how the Son certainly sets us free through
the knowledge of the truth. The quid pro quo of Christ's promise in this
instance is the word "If" and then the condition of continuing in His word. What
does that mean, to continue in His word?
In simplest form, it means obedience to what Jesus says. That does not mean picking and choosing what He says either. It means studying His love letters written to us in the Holy Bible everyday. It means understanding that Jesus was so full of love that He often spoke the truth with brutal honesty. It means loving the Jesus that weeps over the lost but equally as much the Jesus who whips sin out of His temple. Those who would just seek to "follow" Jesus' teachings will never come any closer to knowing this Man then if someone tried to follow the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi expecting to know him. Instead, we must out of love and respect give ourselves to know Christ intimately by giving ourselves to His word.
It often grieves me when I hear someone say they follow the teachings of Jesus. Most of the time this shows me they have never met the Savior. No, what they follow instead is an idea or a concept. This is not Christianity. To be a Christian is to fall in love with the Man, Christ Jesus and want to know everything there is to know about Him. It is to become like Him because we have surrendered to Him, not to an idea. In the same way that children should obey their parents out of love and respect, so should we embrace the active dialogue that God gives us in His word that is able to change our lives. Then, beloved, we will know truth and the truth will set us free!
Heavenly Father, help us to know the truth of Your word. Set us free by not understanding a concept but by knowing the Man, the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus. Give us wisdom and understanding to do so. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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