Summary: July 3, 2005 Communion Meditation
In yesterday’s News-Sun, there was an article on page A9 entitled, “After 35 years in prison, man finds freedom frustrating.”
It was the story of Georgia resident Junior Allen. Allen was arrested, charged, and sentenced 35 years ago for stealing a black-and-white television from an elderly woman in North Carolina. He was 30 at the time. He is now 65 and is struggling to find literally his identity as he has gone back and forth from Georgia to Alabama in search of a birth certificate that would enable him to get a driver’s license and become a productive citizen.
“It’s like I never existed,” Allen says.
229 years ago, a group of men from various backgrounds, were seeking to help a group of colonies find a new identity as a new nation. They were seeking to be free from an oppressive situation. They decided to form a new government and a new nation that would make freedom, in the context of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” a key value of our existence. This freedom would require sacrifice on the part of those men. Some would serve as soldiers and be captured in battle. Some would give large amounts of their wealth for the cause of freedom and never get it back. Yet, they gave and they served and they put their names on a document that would begin a new chapter in human history.
Their commitment was costly. We are the recipients of their commitments and sacrifice. Have we done justice to their vision and their sacrifice?
We celebrate and give thanks to God for freedom that we enjoy this day and this weekend. However, I remind us that we still must pay the cost of freedom and we must still willingly accept the responsibility of freedom if it is to work the way it was originally intended.
We also on this day remember another freedom, one that I think is far more important than political freedom. (As important as political freedom is today.)
It is a freedom that has existed longer than democracy has existed. It is a freedom that has endured and overcome oppression, torture, death, ridicule, and whole host of other things that cannot snuff it out. It is the freedom from sin! It is spiritual freedom! It is the freedom that Jesus Christ made possible through His death and resurrection! It is forgiveness of all our sins!
Our text for this morning reminds us of this freedom. Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my people if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The truth of which Christ spoke and which God, through divine inspiration that is recorded in the Bible has made clear to humankind, is a liberating truth that those who have heard and responded to by faith has transformed their lives in ways large and small.
Verse 32 reminds us of this liberation. We are also reminded of it in the Gospel stories of Zaccheus, Mary Magdalene, the woman at the well, and elsewhere. They are stories of people who met Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of humankind, who changed their lives by changing their hearts through love and forgiveness.
God’s truth does set us free! Praise the Lord! We are able to live without guilt and shame. Our past can be dealt with and we can live in the present and future hope that is our through Jesus Christ! Amen? AMEN!
Yet we also need to remember the first half of our text because it provides a framework in which our “freedom” thrives for freedom without boundaries creates anarchy – political and otherwise. One word reminds us of this framework – obedience.
You are truly my disciples says Jesus if you keep obeying my teachings. Salvation freedom continues and deepens as we ‘keep obeying’ what scripture and the Holy Spirit teach us.
Jesus, as the text says, is speaking to those who have already believed in him. However, salvation freedom comes through both belief in Christ and a continuous obedience to His teachings. To say I believe in Jesus is one thing, to live it is another thing. Freedom comes from doing both.
How do we maintain our political freedom? There are several ways we maintain our freedom:
1. By obeying the laws
2. By being responsible citizens
3. By getting involved in our community
4. By voting
5. By serving our country in various ways
How do we maintain our spiritual freedom? There are several ways:
1. Bible study and prayer
2. Church attendance
3. Finding our place of ministry in the church
4. Serving in the community in some way
5. Having an accountability partner
6. Sunday School
7. Paying attention to our emotions