John 8:31-32 KJV
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
On July 4th we celebrate the birth of a free nation. Our founding fathers recognized that liberty could not be preserved unless we acknowledged our dependence upon God.
America is a Free Nation. We've sung about it this morning. How did we get our freedom and how can we preserve it? Are we in jeopardy of losing it? Does freedom have limits?
During the 1960's when there was a significant cultural shift. Free thinkers challenged the establishment. People thought that if there were any rules at all then there is no freedom. True Freedom, to them, meant no rules. No laws, no morals, no community standards - just freedom. They asked the question, "What would life be like if everybody did whatever they wanted to?" And everyone just did as they pleased. This lead to Free Love, Free Drugs, Free Sex - Free Everything! "If it feels good--do it," became the war cry.
Where does this philosophy lead? Today we reap the consequences of this "freedom" Now we have a higher rate of Divorce, Pornography, and Sexual Child Abuse. These in turn have led to higher spending of our Government in its social programs to help with the by-products of this new found freedom. Unfortunately, there is no indication that this trend will decline any time soon.
Suppose that we go into partnership and buy a rowboat, with each of us paying half the cost. Then we draw a line right down the middle to divide it up evenly. We get in and start rowing out to sea. Just as we get out of sight of land, I take out a drill and start making what I call "freedom" holes in the bottom of my end of the boat. When you scream that my "freedom" is sinking the boat, I respond by saying, "But I have a right to express myself on my end of the boat and you have no right to censor my creative expressions." The question is: When does my freedom become our funeral?
(From Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Proverbs 16:25 says "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (KJV)
Today the climate has changed. We've added to the "no rules" mantra of the 60's, now we say, "no truth" too. The overall climate in today's postmodern world says that truth is relative and personal. What is truth for you, may not be truth for me. The final authority is subjectivity.
Pilate didn't know the truth, and because of it, he made a grave mistake. In John 18:38 Pilate asked, "What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all." (KJV) Though Pilate couldn't find a fault in Jesus, he bowed to the political pressure and surrendered Jesus to be crucified. Too bad that he didn't have a firm conviction about "the truth."
Hanging on the wall of our local Walgreens is an invitation to go to an Obon Festival sponsored by the Buddhists. We are a multi-cultural community. Christianity isn't the only game in town anymore, and other "truths" are being proclaimed.
As long as we proclaim our message as "a truth" we will face no resistance, but if we proclaim it as THE truth, there will be resistance. We will be mocked, shouted down and ridiculed. We will be charactured as Bible-thumping, narrow-minded bigots by the cultural elite. Anyone who demands decency in the public arena is maligned. Think about what the attack dogs have done to Jessie Helms.
On June 25, 1998, the Supreme court ruled on NEA v. Finley. Their ruling shows the brightest legal minds in our country struggling with drawing the line between freedom and responsibility.
Four artists, whose works often dealt with sexual themes and in some cases involved nude performances, sued the Federal Government because of a law Congress adopted in response to criticism of the funding choices of the National Endowment of the Art.
The law was enacted as a result of several objectionable projects funded by the NEA. One project was a career retrospective exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe's works, including homoerotic photography, while another exhibit included one of Andres Serrano's work--a photograph of a crucifix immersed in the artist's urine.
The Supreme Court upheld a controversial 1990 law that required the National Endowment for the Arts to consider decency standards when deciding which artists should get grant money.
The justices, by an 8-1 vote, overturned a federal appeals court decision striking down the law for violating constitutional free-speech and due-process protections.
``We conclude that (the law) is ... valid, as it neither inherently interferes with First Amendment rights nor violates constitutional vagueness principles,'' Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority.
The law required that the NEA use ``artistic excellence and merit'' as the criteria for judging funding applications, taking into consideration ``general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.'' (From Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
In essence, the court's decision said an artist's freedom to create art does not negate the NEA's freedom not to pay them for creating it. Somebody has to make a judgement call. The standard the law states is ``general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.'' The standard of the law allowed the court to make the right decision. But, in my opinion, the law doesn't go far enough. Homoerotic art and defiling Christian symbols should not be rejected because they violate ``general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.'' They should be rejected because they are WRONG!
Who has the right to say they are wrong? Now that is THE question, isn't it? I remind you what the founders of this great nation said. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Where did their rights come from? The Creator God. He is the authority! Not a consensus of opinion.
We have a choice. We can either gripe and complain about the times we live in or we can seize the opportunity they represent. It is not enough for us to criticize postmodernism, we must proclaim the truth this culture needs to hear. Dan Kimball, the pastor of Graceland in Santa Cruz, CA recently told me, " The great thing about postmodernity is the vacuum that exists for truth, and we have the privilege and opportunity to fill it." Are we willing to proclaim THE truth so others can know real freedom?
Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32 KJV) Real freedom does not come from experiencing "a truth" or our own subjectivity reality, it proceeds out of knowing "the truth." Notice that our Scripture does not say, "And you shall know truth." It is very specific, You shall know THE Truth.
Freedom does not come from a world without limits or without truth, it comes from discipline, and submission to the truth. In the book of Phillippians, Paul described himself as a Slave of Jesus Christ, yet he also stated that he was content. How can a slave be content? Only by surrendering his self-liberty did he know true freedom. Look with me at the Scripture. In Philip. 1:1 Paul wrote, "This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus." (NLT) and then in Philip. 4:11 he wrote "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (KJV)
The kind of Freedom he found in Christ was a Freedom from the Fear of Death. Freedom from aimlessness. Freedom from death, Hell and judgment
You want real freedom? You can experience it when you know "the truth." The way to know that truth and experience real freedom is by surrendering your will to His. Romans 10:9 says: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (KJV)
If you already know THE truth, are you willing to proclaim it to those who need to hear it?