John 8:36 (First Egalitarian Translation)
So if the heir — The Only Begotten — makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Freedom is a big deal.
In the US we have a great many freedoms that are not enjoyed in some other parts of the world. We are free to practice whatever religious tradition we adhere to or none at all. We are free to speak our mind about any subject, even criticize our government. We are free to gather to celebrate or protest pretty much anything. We are free to dress as we please. To a certain extent, we are free to choose our career path. We are free to have as many children as we choose.
There are other kinds of freedom as well. This week I will be celebrating 31 years of freedom from active addiction. The air we breathe is free. We may freely enjoy the beauty of the earth and sky. We are all blessed with the gift of free will. I have the freedom to read and use lots of different translations of the Bible. (Today I am using one I just purchased last week - determinedly non-gender specific.)
Sociologists will say our freedom of will is limited, as our choices are determined in large part by a whole slew of factors we might not have any control over - race, gender, age, other people’s choices, etc. And that is totally correct. However, we can make the choices between right and wrong, or God’s will and my will regardless of those factors so long as we are sane. In Jesus’ time a person who was not sane was generally considered to be possessed by a demon or an evil spirit. Even back then it was clear that the insane person was not operating of their own free will, but by the direction of that evil spirit. Sanity returned when the demon or spirit was sent out of the body. (We rarely have to chase evil spirits or demons from persons or cleanse them from places these days. It does happen, but not as often.)
Jesus told his disciples that whoever sinned was a slave to sin, and whoever chose to follow him would know freedom from sin. Just as I make the choice daily to continue in my recovery, so too the choice to follow Jesus is a choice that is made every day, and every time a decision has to be made. I have the choice between right and wrong, my will and God’s will. Choosing to follow Jesus each day makes discerning God’s will easier, and that makes choosing the right easier.
Holy God, help me to always choose Jesus and freedom whenever a decision has to be made. Amen.