Sunday, May 4, 2014

John 8:34-36 -- On True Freedom

"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:34-36

This comes after the really popular saying "and the truth shall make you free" which probably is one of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible.   Often we *want* that to mean that we can live whatever way we want... that our "personal truth" places us above the law, and we want those words to mean that God thinks so too... that the commandments are just guidelines, and God is flexible about the rules if we feel something strongly.  I think these later verses clarify that a little bit.  When God gives us commandments, it isn't arbitrary.  He didn't just make up some rules because his preference is this way, but he knows other people believe that other way, and really, either is okay.  He gives us rules and commandments and laws because this is *actually* how to achieve salvation.  It's the actual class, not just the honor code.
When we commit sin, we aren't just accidentally saying "darn" in front of aunt Margaret, who is among only 103 people on earth offended by that word.  When we sin, we change ourselves.  The changes always seem minor at first, but if we continue, they become more and more obvious.  We trap ourselves in habits and beliefs and lifestyles and attitudes that we can't even *think* our way out of anymore, we've become so immersed in our own propaganda.  We slowly give up the freedom to walk away, to be more than that.  God wants to save us from that, to free us from our own self-destruction... and so he gives us a way to recover from those holes we fall into in our lives, and also offers us a way to live that, if followed, will allow us to get through life unscathed.  A way to remain free from our own destructive tendencies, while we work on learning some better ones.  God's commandments, along with Christ's atonement, are what *actually* make us free.  *That* is the truth.  It is a truth we often run from, but the one that we need to face each time we look for help picking up the pieces of our lives and getting back on track.  There isn't another way.  There isn't a shortcut.  We don't get to make up what *we* think good and bad are.  They just are... and we need to adjust to God, rather than him adjusting to us... because his way is the only way out of the traps that we lay for ourselves.  It is the only way to be who we want to be.  It is the only way to true freedom and happiness.
Today, let's try not to feel trapped by God's commandments.  In all actuality, even though we don't always feel it, God is the best friend we could ever have.  He will help us become our best selves.  He knows that sometimes it hurts to give up things we had our heart set on... but he wouldn't be a good friend, and a perfect Father, if he didn't forbid us from doing things that would tear up our souls.  Let's do our best to listen, and to seek the freedom and happiness that the Lord offers.  Accept no imitations. :)

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