Then Jesus said to [those] who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31-32
At breakfast the other day, I was watching a news show in which not only was the news being presented by the various newscasters, but there was also a continuous stream of headlines across the bottom of the screen. Ebola, governor election, taxes, war in Syria, kidnappings and murders. There are some who have their TV or internet tuned to news all day long. They continue to watch and dwell on these headlines hour after hour and day after day.
Jesus invites us to shift our attention to him. He invites us to let his word be the continual loop before our eyes and the constant message in our ears. He invites us to dwell in his word, to reflect on it, study it, and put it into action. He invites us to follow him.
In this way, Jesus says, we will know the truth and become free. The things we fear – death and all its causes, evil and its effects on our world, sin and its burdens on our lives – do not have the final say. They cannot overpower us in relation to God because Jesus has already conquered them. Yes, they may wreak havoc for a while – but not forever, not eternally.
When we shift our attention to Jesus, dwelling in his word, we come to know the power of his love for us demonstrated on the cross. We come to know the power of his resurrection as healing and strength for each day. And armed with the truth of Jesus, we can give sin, death, and the devil the raspberries. They cannot do eternal harm to us.
This is the Gospel we can share with those around us who are slaves to anxiety and fear. By being the messengers of faith and hope in Jesus Christ, we are lights in the darkness, just as Jesus is the Light of the World.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, turn us to your Word and draw us ever deeper into the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, grant us faith in him and the desire to follow him in truth, so that we enjoy the freedom you desire for us. Amen
4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. Deuteronomy 13:4
Our world is full of invitations to believe in a vast array of things: karma, the goodness of humanity, military power, personal experience, horoscopes, palm readings, fate. Each claims truth and the power to bring about ultimate desires. None, however, can deliver on the promises and each is mediated by a human being with self-interest.
The God of the Bible has a more than 7000-year history of promises kept, beginning with Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham. Jesus is the very presence of the Divine in human flesh and blood who was seen to be publicly crucified and publicly risen from the dead. The extraordinary power of his Holy Spirit was witnessed and personally experienced by over 500 people on Pentecost and thousands in the days immediately following. This living God continues to transform the lives of those who believe in him, who seek from him everything good.
To believe in God is not simply a matter of intellect, assent to various propositions; it is the engagement of heart and mind, body and soul, material and spiritual possessions in pursuit of the greatest good – the union of our will with God’s. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which we have access to this greatest good. Discipleship is following him, revering him, observing all that he commanded, serving him and clinging to him. His invitation “follow me” is an invitation to a life of eternal grace and love. Nothing else can deliver on that promise.
Prayer: Holy God, help us to recognize the false claims to truth and happiness and to find our greatest good and highest hopes fulfilled in you alone; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen