Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
July 7, 2002
INTRODUCTION: In today’s scripture Jesus is talking to some Jewish believers who were new in the faith. They were weak in their faith at this point, and Jesus begins by telling them, “If you continue in my Word, then you are my disciples indeed” (KJV). He’s saying right now you are new in the faith, but if you continue to HOLD TO my teachings and KEEP ON obeying them, then you are really one of my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The Message Bible clarifies this a little bit more by saying, “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples FOR SURE. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”
During this past fourth of July week we have heard a lot about freedom and living in a country where we are free to choose and free to speak. Free to go where we want to, free to worship or not worship. Freedom to decide many things or ourself. Freedom has been a part of our thinking throughout history.
STORY: At the close of an important speech to Congress on January 6, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt shared his vision of the kind of world he wanted to see after the war in Europe was over. He spoke of four basic freedoms which should be enjoyed by all people: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Of course, World War II exploded far beyond Europe, and the world never achieved Roosevelt’s ideal. Even if it did, however, we would still need another freedom the president didn’t mention: freedom from ourselves and the tyranny of our sinful nature.
Jesus was talking to these new believers about this new kind of freedom--spiritual freedom rather than political freedom. At that point they didn’t understand what He meant and were trying to live up to a lot of rules and regulations. They had not come into the knowledge of what it meant to be FREE INDEED spiritually. I don’t think Christians have come into the freedom that Jesus was talking about here either because many people are living such defeated, stressed out lives rather than the abundant life that Jesus spoke about when he said, “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This means being FREE INDEED. You may say, “I must not experiencing the freedom that Jesus talked about here or otherwise I would not be struggling so much--falling for all of the temptations that come down the road and feeling guilty because I am not the Christian that I really want to be.
What did Jesus really mean when he said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed?”
This week as I walked around in this scripture, I wondered about the word freedom and how it applies to Christians in the 21st century. I believe it goes beyond the freedom to attend church or not attend. It goes beyond our freedom to read the Bible, to choose the denomination we prefer, and to speak out about our faith. When Jesus sets us free, it makes a much greater impact on our personal lives in that we are FREE INDEED to live overcoming, productive lives. We are not just barely hanging on as Christians. Just how does this idea of freedom apply to us today? Do we even know we are free?