“The truth shall set you free.” This quote from the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verse 32 is often quoted and rarely understood in context. Jesus is speaking about the differences between his real followers and those that profess religious adherence while avoiding obedience to love and truth.
Just before this verse, Jesus shares that his true followers obey his commands…and THEN, the fullness of liberating truth comes into view. In other words, knowledge alone does not liberate; a relationship with God is what matters most. And, consistent with all of St. John’s writings, proof of life with God is that God’s people love one another and all around them, willingly serving those that cannot return the favor.
When God-infused, unselfish love is the foundation of our lives, we can face the truth of any matter head-on, because we know we are loved by God and care more for his glory and the good of others that our selfish wants. We can face the truth about ourselves and our need for continual transformation. We can face facts about the economic, moral and social issues of our day, knowing that our neighbors are both divine image-bearers and in need of redemption.
Knowing the truth is liberating and here are some applications to everyday issues:
- Abortion kills a human being. In an extremely small number of cases, preserving a mother’s life may require a tragic moral choice; however, technology allows us to see a real human developing inside the womb!
- Our southern border needs regulation with hospitality, security with compassion. Ignoring it only exacerbates human suffering and political and economic agendas of elites that have no contact with the people involved.
- Our soaring deficits are inexcusable, with tax revenues the highest in history. Smart people can balance our federal budget in a few hours, while cowardly congressional leaders kick the can down the road of future oppression.
- Affordable housing is a local and national crisis. Neither socialism or hyper-libertarianism can lead us to the private-public partnerships and common good solutions we need.
If we love God and our neighbor, we will seek solutions for these and other apparently intractable problems. We can face both human misery and divine opportunity with hopeful realism. It is time for thoughtful folks to say, “Enough!” to posturing politicians and pundits and work for justice neighborhood by neighborhood.