Then Jesus said to the Jews 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.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. ~ John 8:31-36
What is freedom?
Is it the ability to do whatever you want? Does it mean you can say what you want or have what you want?
Does it mean that the government has no say in your affairs? Does it mean you don't have to wear a mask or get vaccinated? Does it mean you can carry a gun in public or do whatever you want to with your body?
For Jesus, freedom mean truth. You aren't truly free unless you are living in truth.
To the Jews Jesus was engaging in conversation, freedom meant that Moses had liberated them from Pharaoh. For many of us, freedom means our constitutional rights.
But neither of those things are what make us truly free. We can have all of those at our disposal and still live in what Jesus called slavery to sin.
We are free when we know not just the truth of who Jesus is, but the truth of who we are. And the truth of who our neighbor is and our community is.
We are no longer a slave to sin when we admit that sin is part of who we are. That we live in a world that is still steeped in sin.
As I write this, there is a lawsuit in Oklahoma to try to overturn the state's law against teaching what has been termed, "critical race theory." There is the feeling there, and in some other states and school districts, the teaching the truth about the sin of racism in this US will somehow harm young minds.
But in fact, knowing the truth about how the US has used (and still uses) systemic racism will not harm us. It will in fact free us.
Freedom is truth. Living in truth means living freely. Acknowledging sinfulness in ourselves and in our communities frees us to be the people we were created to be and frees us from the illusions we have of ourselves and our neighbors.
Truth might be hard. It might be unpleasant sometimes. But it is liberating.
Open my eyes to the truth of who I am and the truth of who you have called me to be. Free me from my own illusions. Amen