…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
The truth will set you free.
What a powerful statement. In it, there’s not even the slightest hint of wiggle room; no margin for error. Jesus didn’t say that the truth might set you free, or could set you free, or should set you free. He said that the truth will set you free.
Yet again, I’m going to wipe the egg off of my face and admit to you that I didn’t know that these were Jesus’ words until I began reading the Bible a couple of years ago. The truth will set you free. I couldn’t possibly count the number of times that I’ve heard that statement in my lifetime, or that I’ve actually said it myself.
I’m reminded of the memorable courtroom scene in the 1992 film A Few Good Men, when, during a heated exchange, lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) presses Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) for the truth on the witness stand. Pushed to the limit, and teetering on the brink of rage, Col. Jessup bellows “You can’t handle the truth!”
I wonder how many of us have a hard time facing the truth in our relationships, in our careers, in our finances, and sadly, in ourselves.
I know that for years I wouldn’t stand in front of the mirror and gaze into my own eyes because I knew that I wouldn’t like what I saw. I was the “front man” in the hair salon that my wife Jackie and I owned and operated. I was the first face that a client saw when they walked into our business, and my role included greeting them with a smile on my face and making them feel at home. Oh, I wore that smile on my face, and I did my very best to make them feel at home, and looking back on it now, I realize that I really enjoyed what I did because I love people.
But that was on the outside. The truth was that on the inside, I was a frustrated, angry, bitter man. While I knew what was inside of me, my feeble mind reasoned that if I stayed away from the mirror, I wouldn’t really have to see it. I wouldn’t have to face the truth.
Just yesterday I was reflecting on a section in a workbook from LIFE (Living In Freedom Everyday), a Bible study/fellowship group that Jackie and I attend on Sunday nights. This topic focused on footholds that Satan gets on us through character traits and personality flaws that are woven into the fabric of who we are. As I scanned through the list, which included anger, pride, depression, unworthiness, shame, rejection, abuse, lust, greed, fear, and control, I realized that not too many years ago I could lay claim to almost all of them.
“If you hold to my teachings, you really are my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I believe that there are so many people in the world today, including Christians, who feel that there is too high a price to be paid for being a true follower of Christ. They’re so consumed with the fear of what they may have to give up that they’re blinded to all that they’ll gain!
Before I continue, I feel the need to say something here…
Being a “true follower” of Christ is more than simply saying that you’re a Christian. It’s easy for me to say that I’m a multi-millionaire (which I’m not). It’s easy for me to say that I’m the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts (which I’m definitely not!).
Being a follower of Christ is a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort. We have to measure our every thought, word, and deed. We have to be aware of who we are, what we are, and what we do. We have to be a Christian every day and not just on Sunday. There are no “days off” from being a follower of Christ; no vacations, no sick leave, no leave of absence, and no time off for good behavior. Being a follower is a constant, conscious, commitment.
Be that as it may, the truth is that even if we do all those things each and every day, without fail, we’re still gonna screw up. Why? Well, because we’re humans. And look; saying that we’re human is not an excuse for screwing up, but an admission of our frailty in who we are.
I don’t care how hard we try, we’re gonna have those moments of anger, or pride, or greed, or lust. The difference is that as followers of Christ, we can be free from the constant bondage of all of these things. I still get angry from time to time, and I have to check my pride every now and then, and I still have moments of unworthiness, but I’m not held hostage by any of them. Freedom!
“…and the truth will set you free.”
There’s another “nugget of truth” that I’ve come to realize in the past couple of weeks, and truth be told, it was the inspiration or idea behind today’s post.
All of my life, I’ve tried to do or say whatever it would take to make other people happy. It was important for me to be accepted by people, and I figured that the easiest way to accomplish that was to keep ‘em happy. Even if it meant biting my tongue. Even if it meant turning my head so I wouldn’t see. Even if it meant swallowing my pride. Even if it meant sacrificing my happiness for theirs. Even if it meant not doing something that I needed to do.
I’ve been strongly criticized by a few people for a business decision that I had to make a couple of weeks ago. It was a hard decision to make, one that I prayed over for weeks before taking action, and when I did make that decision, it was with a clear conscience. Apparently, a couple of people didn’t agree with my conscience, and they let me know about it. And I was okay with that. A couple of them, however, questioned my walk as a Christian, which really bothered me. I wasn’t angered by their questions, but hurt.
As always, I turned to God for help. And I found the truth.
The truth is that I live to please no man. I seek only to please God. My measuring stick is what God sees in me, and not in what you see. If I can look in that mirror at the end of each day, and with a clear conscience, believe that what I have done is pleasing to Him, or in accordance with His commands, I am at peace.
And that, my friends, is a freedom that is like no other.
Amen and Amen.