Tumbling in the Sand
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36
What do you need to be set free from?
It’s easy to be like those listening to Jesus who want to argue that they’ve never been a slave to anyone—that there is nothing to be freed from. I know that I like to think that I’m free. Free enough to free myself from things that bog me down—when I decide that I’m tired of it. There are lots of people I know who talk like that too. I’ve heard people say they could quit smoking/drinking/caffeine/etc. whenever they want to (most of them apparently don’t want to yet…especially the caffeine part). Or people who work too much who say that they will slow down when the time comes (as if they could). Or I know that I have certainly thought about how I’ll get back to certain things I love “when things slow down a bit” (ha!). But for some strange reason, we can’t. All of those things we’d like to not do, we seem to do and all of those things that we’d really like to do we can’t seem to do at all.
Most of the time though, it doesn’t feel much like religion frees us. It seems more often than not that all we learn from religion is another set of rules to follow, another set of chains to wear. Religion is supposed to teach us to be good, right? (or at least that’s the dominant idea) You know, love your neighbor as yourself, show up to church, tithe, be a good person, love God… and the list goes on and on. I can feel the binding chain get heavier and heavier and tighter and tighter.
Maybe it gets heavier and heavier for me because I think that the biggest thing that traps me is fear: fear of failure. And well, a whole new list of things to do just makes me worry that I’ll fail at that too.
The ironic thing is that of course I’ll fail, we all do. I mean, all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, right? None of us gets it right … and if we think we can (or have somehow), doesn’t that mean that we are trying to be God (note: to sin is to fall short of the glory of God) and isn’t that breaking the very first commandment? Of course, this brilliant logic doesn’t keep me from that irrational fear of something that already and continues to happen…
Right, so logic doesn’t really help. Rules don’t really help. What, then, can really free the human heart? the trapped human life? What can set me free? What can set you free? Jesus answers “The Son.” The incarnate God. Embodied, perfect love. Love that doesn’t count what it costs to love you. Love that doesn’t stop ever, even though you fail—even though it knows the truth. Love that touches your wounds and becomes broken for you. Love that refuses to let even death have the final say. Love that comes looking for you in the middle of the worst places you could possibly stick yourself and pulls you out breaking your chains and setting you free.