I have been most remiss in keeping up this blog lately. It seems like "real" life -- work and family mostly -- have taken over my spare hours. Lots of good things going on across all those fronts, but that leaves little time for creative writing.
I've been thinking some this week, in anticipation of Reformation Sunday coming up on the 26th, about the most commonly used gospel text for Reformation Sunday in the churches where I've served. It's from John 8, where Jesus tells the Jews who have believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The Jews have an explosive negative reaction to that. "We are children of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone!"
Methinks they doth protest too much.
What was the hallmark story, the defining story of the Israelites? The Exodus, of course. Why did the Exodus story take place? Because the Israelites were SLAVES in the land of Egypt. Once God set them free they had their own country for a while, then in 722 b.c. the Assyrians came and carted off the northern tribes. In 587 b.c. Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon did the same to the people of Judah. These Judahites (later to become known as "Jews") were slaves in the land of Babylon for 70 years. Then they were allowed to come back and reestablish Judah as a vassal (read "slave") state under Babylonian rule. In the time of Alexander the Great, the Greeks took over and the Jews were enslaved under Greek rule. A little later the Romans took over and at the time Jesus walked this earth and at the time the gospels were written, the Jews chafed under Roman rule, enslaved to the Romans.
We are children of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone.
Why is it so hard for us to see ourselves accurately? Why do we have so little ability to recognize our own failings and foibles, our own arrogance or our own false humility?
Did you know you've never seen your own face? Think about it. You've seen reflections, images, photographs, but never your own face. You can't. You just can't.
It's similar with our own souls. We can't see ourselves accurately. So we need a word that comes from outside ourselves to properly diagnose us, to accurately portray us.
This is why so often we resist what God's Word says about us. We don't want to see ourselves that clearly. We don't want that accurate a picture. We don't want to face reality. We don't want to acknowledge our slavery.
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed, Jesus says. The truth will set you free. The truth of who you are in Jesus, in his pronouncement about you. The truth of what he has done for you in bleeding and dying for you, because you desperately needed him to do so. Whether you believe it or not.
The truth is harsh and hard to accept.
The only thing worse is living a lie.