I'm beginning a kind of devotional "40-Day Journey in the Company of John of the Cross." I wonder what it means to be set free in Jesus. Jesus told those who had heard him and believed him that if they'd continue in his word, or hold to his teaching they are really his disciples, then they will know the truth, and the truth will set them free. And that unlike slaves, they are sons, and to live in the freedom of the Son of God. And that if the Son sets them free, they will be free indeed. We know from the rest of the story, that they ended up trying to stone Jesus.
In this life it seems like we have so many things that weigh us down, or even tie us up and can cause us to stumble and fall. And we can't escape the reality that we sin in this life; we don't arrive to sinless perfection in this life. So what does it mean to be set free in and by Jesus?
I believe that surely it is related to God's will for us here, in Christ Jesus. And that will does not mean that we won't be subject to all kinds of trials, both inward and outward. This was true of John of the Cross, as well as Martin Luther and many others. Yet John found a sweetness in Jesus. Song of Songs was a favorite of his, which in a tradition of the church, he read and wrote on as mirroring God's love relationship with his people. John found freedom perhaps in, as well as from darkness through this love of God made known to his soul in Christ.
To continue in Jesus' word, or to hold to his teaching involves a choice on our part, and not just one choice, but continuing to choose to adhere to God's word, because we're choosing to adhere to God. Of course this faith in God through Christ is what will see us through day after day, and over the long haul to fulfill God's will for us in Jesus. Jesus' words in John 8 are contingent on his disciples' obedience. Such obedience requires faith, a faith in the one who so promised which means trusting and obeying his words.
Yesterday at work I started on the first meditation in this book from writings of John of the Cross. So I turned my Bible open on the factory floor, to John 8. I love the words of that Scripture, but I felt tired, down and not free inside. These seemed to my senses like empty words, even though by faith I know better. So as I've done before, I did again. I kept in those words of Scripture, trying to do so in a meditative way over Jesus' words there. With probably not enough of, or any real prayer. The job was busy and often barely manageable due to machine issues.
But as I pressed through the day, seeking to keep my eyes on Jesus and my mind on his words, I experienced a wonderful freedom and joy in the midst of the craziness of books flying at us with often many machine issues. It was wonderful, really, even though the job itself was difficult and I was ever tempted to leave the place of trust and become upset. But God helped me by grace and I resisted that. Funny thing is that later, being tired from the day I seemed to lapse back into the old sense of tiredness and out of that sense of a nearly buoyant joy and freedom, almost like one walking on the water. I'm sure all of us in Jesus know what I'm talking about here.
So I must learn to apply this Scripture, these words of Jesus more and more in all of my life. So that I see all of life in this way, carried along by God's grace through my faith in Jesus. No, faith is not something I deserve to be patted on the back for, it is simply a receiving as a needy, blind beggar, God's great gift offered to me as a sinner and now as his child, in Jesus.
So we need to continue on, desiring nothing less than what God offers us in Jesus. And finding all our experiences and emotions to the contrary as simply necessary reminders that our hope and trust is never in ourselves, but in our Lord.
What would you like to add to this?
Tomorrow: Roxaboxen - heaven, from L.L. Barkat, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places