The Gospel of John is luminous. It is a new light to the eyes of our minds because it is focused on Jesus, the Word of God, who enlightens the human race (John 1:4). What is particularly illuminating for us today is the connection that Jesus makes between knowing the truth and being free. According to Jesus, freedom is dependent on knowing the truth. He says to his disciples: "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Apparently, being a disciple of Christ involves a kind of education.
As I have transitioned from being the student in the classroom to now being the teacher, the task of leading forth the ignorant into a newfound freedom based upon the truth has become one of my primary concerns. One of the greatest obstacles to growth in authentic freedom facing our youth today, but not only our youth, is the separation between truth and freedom. The inherent connection between thinking rightly and doing rightly is terribly obscured.
It can be very fruitful to ask ourselves the question: "Do I see remaining in the Word of God, that is to say being obedient to the Word of God, as the source of my freedom?"
Rev. Jadyn Nelson
So very often, obedience is thought to oppose freedom. It is thought that freedom is lost in obedience. To be free means to do what I want, when I want and how I want. Freedom seems to come before any reference to the truth of things and is sought for its own sake. However, this kind of freedom leads neither to our sanctification, nor to our moral maturation.
It is precisely into the darkness of this kind of situation that the divine illumination that comes from Christ shines so brightly. He not only reminds us that true freedom, especially the interior freedom of our hearts, flows from knowledge of the truth, but he also proclaims that he is identifiable with the truth (John 14:6).
If we desire true freedom, then we must be conformed to the pattern of Christ. We need to cling to him with our hearts and minds, so that he remains in us as the true wellspring of our freedom.
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.
In the end, the words of Christ remind us that our moral lives and our lives of faith are utterly connected. Religious education and moral maturation go together. Reaching the summits of virtue will happen in large part by humbly bending our knees before Christ.
Faith is the narrow gate where the humble enter into freedom, because it is through faith that we cling to Christ, the truth about God and about man.