a worship reflection by Jon Poteet
Freedom means doing what I want. I must confess that sounds really good to me. It is exhilarating and exciting to contemplate. There is some truth to it. In my retirement I have a great deal more control over my schedule and activities (or lack thereof) than I used to have. I get to do a lot more of my “want to’s” and I have a lot of them, just ask my wife, Lisa. The problem is that this is a lie. It is the most effective kind of lie, a half truth. If you want people to believe you it is always best to mix in some truth to make the lie more convincing.
The truth is I can’t do whatever I want. I love basketball and March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy basketball constantly, continuously. I played basketball almost from the time I could walk until the age of forty five, giving it up only because my knees and back would not hold up any longer. I always wanted to dunk. Despite hours of lifting weights and jumping drills the best I could do was touch the bottom of the backboard. The last twenty four inches of height remained beyond my reach. As the great philosopher, Clint Eastwood, once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” In the language of fatih, God is God and I am not.
At some point this morning Preston will finish his sermon (hopefully) and we will sing our last song. Lisa and I will head out to the parking lot where our Toyota Highlander is waiting. We will head home or out to lunch. Suppose I decide I want to see exactly how fast that car will go. In addition I feel like disregarding those silly traffic laws such as traffic signals, signs, lanes. There is a better than average chance that Lisa and I plus any unfortunate souls in my way will wind up in the emergency room or the morgue. I live in a society and limit my freedom in a myriad of ways so we can coexist.
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” says Jesus. What is the truth and what is the freedom that he is talking about? As Preston has already told us, in the Gospel of John truth is a person. Jesus will later tell us, “I am the Truth, the Way, the Life.” To know the truth is to come face to face with Jesus. Notice the first person singular pronoun when freedom is defined as doing whatever I want. Jesus walks right up to my easy chair of self-centeredness and invites me to get up and follow him. If I respond to the invitation he leads me past my carefully constructed walls of selfishness into a world filled with the presence of God. God who loves me completely and unconditionally. Where I am free to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is a world filled with neighbors who I am free to love as I love myself. We find our lives by giving them away in service to God and neighbor. It is not easy, but it is a life worth living.