Truth. Does anybody know what truth is these days? Is truth a simple collection of facts? Is truth what I accept from my personal filters – what is true for me may not be true for you. Everyday we are subjected to information that ranges from spin to direct lies. “Fake News” is the accusation against what I consider to be reality. So is truth really nothing more than my personal take on reality or can truth be found that turns out to be liberating?
This coming Sunday many churches will be celebrating the Reformation led by Martin Luther challenging the abuses of the Catholic church in that day. Set free from those abuses have we abandoned them only to take on a different bondage? If so, then we haven’t come to know the truth that enables us to be free.
Jesus was having a debate that was concerned with identity. Some of the Jewish folk in the crowd were listening to his teaching and starting to believe that he just might be the Messiah. Jesus said that if they continued in his teaching they would be his disciples (learners) and come to know the truth, the truth that will set them free. They protested that they were descendants of Abraham and were never slaves to anyone. Apparently they had forgotten about their ancestors slavery in Egypt and the Roman soldiers currently having a powerful grip on them now. They were starting to believe but their bondage was tied to their identity as children of Abraham. The desire to kill Jesus proved that their bondage was to a way that Abraham would have never supported. Their perceived identity was false.
Jesus said that whoever sins is a slave to sin. Sin is more than doing bad things. Sin is rebellion against God. The bad things we do are symptoms of that rebellion. So what is the truth that sets us free from our slavery? The truth is not a set of doctrine. It is not tradition. Truth is not grabbing select Bible verses that support our political philosophy. It is not nationalism. Truth is not repeating memorized lines. It is not longing for an idealized past. The truth that sets us free is a person. Jesus is that truth.
If we take the time to listen to the things Jesus taught. If we observe his compassion for the sick and the outcast and the poor. If we take notice of how he forgave and showed mercy. If we understand his rejection of the world’s take on power for fidelity to the kingdom of God. If we begin to notice these things then what opens up to us is holy and Divine. If we take these things into our being, then we come to know the One who is truth. Jesus sets us free. The result is that freedom in this world of slavery no longer is an obscure concept but a gift from God.