John 8:31-32 (the message)
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”
Proverbs 15:32 (the message)
An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny;
an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.
Yesterday I scratched my eye pretty badly (long story involving a metal hair band) and the Doc wants my eye to stay dilated for two days! It hurt like the dickens, so she put a contact lens over it to act as a bandage and I’m using antibiotic eye drops. So, I have another appointment in a couple of hours for her to check the healing and dilate my left eye again. I wish you could see me! Ha! I have one pupil dilated and the other normal. I look like something from a scary movie…smile! One thing I was thanking God for yesterday was how I believe He prompted my dad to call me. My dad had somehow looked at his phone wrong and called me thinking I had been calling him. I had not! But when I told him about how I was trying to decide if I needed to see an eye doctor, he immediately insisted I go. He shared how he had scratched his eye years ago and put off going and by the time he saw a doctor, it was getting worse. My dad’s insistence gave me the kick in the pants to go. And Dr. Salter said it was a very good thing I came in. So, thank You, Lord!
Anyway, knowing I have only a short time left to read a screen today, I wanted to share a thought I’ve had since I read this familiar verse in John the other day. Such a famous verse…Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. I really like how The Message puts it: Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.
It gets me to thinking about the different kinds of “knowing.” I could know what someone teaches me is the truth or I could experience the truth for myself. I believe, according to what Jesus is saying, only one of those frees us. How many of us in church world will quote this verse about knowing the truth and it setting us free and yet we are not free! Not really! Okay, yes we are free from eternal separation in God, but I believe He means for us to have liberty…freedom from the tyrant of a self-willed life as mentioned in the Proverb above.
How do we experience this shift in our knowing? How do we go from “knowing” what the preacher says must be true to knowing from our own life experience the truths of Jesus? I think if we look at what Jesus has to say prior to this ever-famous verse we find the answer. But. It’s serious. It’s the cause of this freedom effect we want. If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. We will not experience, for ourselves, the truth of Jesus unless we live out what He tells us. I think sometimes we live with a bit of unspoken confusion in our hearts because we agree with what Jesus claims is truth but we are not really living in freedom (from offense, from people-pleasing, from condemnation, from deep insecurity, resentment, festering wounds and fear). Perhaps the truth is this passionate proclamation rings hollow in our own ears as who knows us better than we know ourselves? Well, God.
The Proverb above describes a self-willed life as a puny life and a God-willed life as spacious. I see it this way: If I choose to live my life based on my own will, I can “know” the truth about Jesus all day long but I won’t experience true freedom. My life will be puny in whatever area I am holding fast and hard to doing things my way. But in whatever areas of my life I am willing to “live out” what Jesus tells me (a God-willed life), I will see space…room for God to do what only He can do! Sadly, we so often think our will and our ideas for our lives are big and good. When if we could only catch a glimpse of the goodness of God and His plans as we live in obedience, we would recognize our plans as puny. I really think He wants to bless us, use us and fulfill us in ways that are amazing and life changing if we’ll go after experiencing the truth of Jesus by living out what He tells us.
Proverbs 15:33 (the message) Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living — first you learn humility, then you experience glory. In my life right now, humility is a recurring theme in class. (It’s a whole other post what I’m seeing about how pride took root in my life over the past year and bloomed in self-pity) What I realize, again and again and again, is how humility is the foundation for living out the truth Jesus shows us in His Word. I won’t even begin to consider laying aside my self-willed life for a God-willed life until I’m humbled. Until I see that He is God and I am not! Until I am on my knees in surrendered worship for this Creator-God who dreamed up mountain peaks and canyons grand and yet still has dreams for me. Until I submit to the majesty of a God who paints the sky at dusk and waits for me to hand over the canvas of my own life. Until I am more convinced than not that God’s way is better than my way. Until I see the pride in my self-will and the glory possible in God’s will.
First you learn humility. And then, well then my friends, you keep learning it. Because about the time you exhale and think well, I finally got pride whipped, God will begin to show you the seeds of pride in that kind of thinking. I almost laugh aloud because isn’t that the beginning and the end of mankind? Even in Eden’s Garden there stood the stark choice between a puny life and a spacious life. Self-will and God-will. Pride or humility. Every other tree or the one forbidden. Does it seem like a cruel and unfair set up? We, the crown of creation, have a will. We do not live by instinct and what a glorious blessing. Because there is nothing sweeter than the freedom that comes in any area of our lives we will choose to “live out” what Jesus says, experience the truth of Jesus for ourselves and then know the truth up one side and down the other.
I have the opportunity to press in with my own will every single day. Often I do! But I continue to learn humility. When I want to snap back, when I want to have my own pity-party, when I want to be right. Loving others the way Jesus tells me to do it is not easy when I want so badly to let my pride cushion every percieved blow. Yet I know from experience doing things His way produces freedom. Room. Space.
More of Him and less of me. Isn’t that the choice before us every day? More or less? More of me and my way or less of me and my way? More freedom or less? More grace or less? More love and joy or less?
More Jesus, more living out the truth of His Word? Or less?