The key to freedom
"If you hold to my teaching, you are truly my disciples: then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
"Arbeit macht frei" (work will make you free) was the phrase written over Nazi work camps during the Second World War.
It’s a great slogan for anyone wanting to enslave a nation.
Today we don’t buy it.
In our enlightened world we know that truth, not work, is the key to freedom.
We scour books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet, searching for those nuggets of truth that will continue our great liberation.
The search, however, reveals a complex snag. What truth? Which newspaper articles should we believe? Which sources are reliable? The more we dig for the truth, the more this new slogan seems no better than "Arbeit macht frei." If anything, we sense a heavier burden rather than a deeper freedom. "You will know the truth..." That’s the maddening part. How can we know it? Some would say you can’t: truth is just a fable. Others would say it’s relative. Jesus said it’s relational.
Of course, when Jesus spoke of truth he wasn’t referring to the superficial information one gleans from a trip into cyberspace. He also wasn’t speaking of math, science, or religious knowledge, which comes in varying colors and shades.
The One who created life was instead speaking of the absolute, unchangeable core of life: the foundational truth that gives meaning to our existence. Is there really such a deep understanding that could give all humans freedom regardless of their external condition? Jesus said, "Yes, I am that Truth."
When we choose to believe His radical claim, our initial reaction is joy and relief. We sing, "Jesus is the answer…", take off our shoes, and set up camp. We have a sense of having arrived. The search is over; the answer has been found. But in reality we haven’t really heard all of His words. So Jesus walks into the midst of our retirement camp and repeats His challenge, "IF you hold to my teachings and become my life-long disciple, THEN you will know (experience) the depths of reality...you will know Me and I will destroy your misconceptions of life, shake your faulty foundations, and set you free." This proposal is altogether different.
The light begins to dawn. Jesus didn’t post a campground sign for the kingdom of Truth; rather He has extended an invitation to a relational journey. In the depths of our hearts, if we’re honest, we’re a bit disappointed.
We wanted there to be an answer - simple, black and white, and a one-size-fits-all remedy. As the party music fades, the tents come down, and the traveling shoes are laced back onto our feet, we mourn the death of our easy solution. In the midst of this disappointment, we can almost forget that we have been invited to the greatest adventure on the earth: a journey with the Creator of life.
In this superficial, fast-paced world we love sound-bytes and quick fixes, but "Jesus is the answer" isn’t a real solution; it’s merely another slogan. And the version of Christianity that has been built on that thin slogan has left many disappointed and disillusioned.
The inner freedom and ultimate meaning we all desire is not found in the simple recognition of Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus isn’t the answer; He is the truth.
There is a profound difference between the two. It’s easy to get excited upon discovering a treasure in a field.
It’s quite another thing to sell everything you own in order to purchase that field. Yet that’s the image of discipleship.
The continual dismantling of our broken concepts of life and building on His view is the only way to gain the treasure of truth and freedom.
Real freedom, according to Jesus, is the outcome of a relational journey with the truth. It is an ongoing process of replacing the untruths of this world with the empowering ways of God. Romans 12:2 says, "Don’t be conformed to the ideas of this age, but be transformed by renewing your mind."
Remember, you have not arrived at the truth; you are on a life-long journey with Him.
Life is filled with issues that are real. They require wisdom, mercy, and inner strength, not one-size-fits-all solutions. The Son of God doesn’t offer us easy answers; He invites us to a journey of transformation and freedom. Anything that is real takes time, and this journey with Jesus is as real as it gets.
This Week Ask this question: Are you free? Remind yourself that you are His disciple: not one who has the answers, but one who knows the God of wisdom and truth.
Prayer "Lord, give me the heart of a disciple. May I be teachable and once again embrace the journey. Daily reveal Yourself to me and release me from the things that bind me so that I might be a witness in this world to the fact that You are indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As we journey set me free."
Garold Andersen is a freelance writer, musician and minister currently living in France. He is the author of the book Brand New Bag.