by Serena Sinclair – Associate Pastor – Adult Ministry
Freedom in Christ
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” The inscription of this quote is showcased in universities and organizations throughout the United States, including the main lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C. If we ponder this quote long enough, we may discover our quest for truth often turns toward a political or personal ideology, shaped by our culture and self-preference. But Jesus redirects our truth quest to Himself when He says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).
As followers of Christ, we can possess a freedom that transcends any liberation we’ve known or dreamt. Our liberation is borne at the cross. The irony is real; a symbol of shame and ultimate condemnation in ancient Rome became the greatest emblem of freedom for all of humankind. Without the cross, we were doomed, forever separated from the presence of God. In John 8:31-36, the implications of this verse “kick in” as Jesus tells His Jewish listeners that they are slaves to sin. They have a quick comeback arguing, “We are descendants of Abraham, we have never been slaves!” Haven’t we at some point in our lives had a similar attitude: “I’m a good person; I obey the law; I help others; I go to church every Sunday; I serve in ministry; I’m not perfect, but I’m a good person.” Jesus’ reply to the believing Jews and to us is this: “I AM Truth, and anyone who sins is a slave to sin” (v 34). Before entrusting our lives to Jesus, we were on death row with an eternal death sentence, held captive by the impulses of sin with no power to overcome its influence. Because Jesus was willing to submit Himself to the cruelty of the cross, we can now choose to live in FREEDOM (Galatians 5:1, Romans 6:6). How we respond to this truth determines the extent of our freedom. Do we simply acknowledge the truth as a biblical fact, or does the truth of the cross motivate us to make a decision that requires action? What is Jesus asking of me?
There is tension at the cross because we understand that Jesus surrendered everything, and deep within us, if we’re honest, is a fear to surrender everything. Our mind fast tracks to every uncomfortable scenario. We’re afraid of what the Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of our heart, will reveal because if we follow Jesus something inside us must die, and so we wrestle with surrender, relinquishing control to Jesus forces us to plunge into the depths of the unknown. What is known and familiar is our pride in maintaining control of our time, our calendar, our sixty-hour workweek, or our attempts to control other things that we rely upon to make it through the day without a slump. Often, we are blind to unhealthy habits that consume us: substance abuse, anger, unforgiveness, religious pride or exceeding our monetary budget from constant shopping. They are so much a part of our psyche we cannot imagine separating ourselves from them. We tell ourselves and others, “This is just how we are.” In his book, The Great Divorce, CS Lewis says, “If we insist on keeping HELL (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven, we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.” A harsh statement indeed.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he stood on a lonely hill overlooking the city and wept. In His lament He wept for those who did not understand the Truth and He wept for those who could not surrender (Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 19:41-44). Jesus wants us to live in the power of Truth so we can be free from anything that would threaten to hold us in bondage. If securing our salvation was worth the pain of the cross, we know Jesus longs for us to find absolute freedom as we surrender at the cross and are made new. At the cross Jesus reshapes our heart, quiets our fear, and renews our mind, because He loves us.
Everyday Jesus calls to us, prompting surrender so we can live in the fullness of freedom He purchased at the cross. This is a freedom no country or president can ever offer us; it is freedom from sin, and it is found in at the foot of the cross, in surrender.
Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Grace and peace to you,