...LIKE YOU AND ME.
"THEN YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE." — JOHN 8:32
Yesterday, my sister Rebecca reminded me who I was.
We were talking about youth culture—all the shiny deceptions they believe about what makes them significant, all the pressures they feel to be unique and yet fit in, all the enslaving things they consume on those lighted screens. I told Rebecca that I feel a special burden for the furthest out—those young people who are satisfied with a place in the dark, because at least it’s a place to belong. And she told me, “That’s because you were that kid.” And there it was. The reason I feel so strongly about that “punk kid” is because I was that punk kid. “At one time [I] too [was] foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). And somehow, it still feels fresh—like only yesterday I lived in that dark place, grasping for any pleasure or passion to distract me from my despair and despondency. I was a slave to sin, without hope and without God in the world. But for the grace of God, I’d be there still.
And you would too.
I know. You might not identify at all with being a punk, but surely there was a time when you too were walking in the dark. So, bear with me a minute while I meddle with you—not because I want to, but because our verse is a meddlesome verse. At first glance, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” might sound like a benign bumper sticker about truth and freedom. But when you boil that message down, it’s saying anything but niceties about you. In fact, it’s aggressive. It’s telling you that you’re really just like that deceived “punk kid.” In this verse, Jesus is out-and-out saying that you believe lies and you’re a slave. You’re not the master of your own life; instead, you are a “slave to sin” (John 8:34) which leads to death. This is not a warm fuzzy message; it’s telling us stuff about ourselves that we don’t like to hear. And the people in Jesus’s day didn’t like it either (read more about that here). This is the off-putting, in-your-face news about you (and me). We’re all deceived and enslaved.
But the truth…
If we can just stomach this message, if we can accept it and acknowledge the truth of it, then we can also hear the truth that Jesus is offering us. Here’s the shorthand version: we may be punks, but Jesus loves punks. In fact, Jesus loved us enough to free us from our bondage to sin by paying its price with his “precious blood” (1 Peter 1:18-19). When we trust that his payment is good and trust him for salvation, we’re no longer held in darkness by our harsh master. We are released and adopted as God’s children, free to walk in the light. This is what our verse is all about. The truth about Jesus is what sets us free.
All who believe are free.
You are never too far off for Jesus to reach you. You are never too broken for him to fix. Your past or your present are never too stained for him to make white as snow. No matter how deceived or enslaved we’ve been, his truth can penetrate the lies and set us free. And some of us know it and believe it. Some of us have experienced this radical, undeserved freedom. But some maybe haven’t yet. It sounds too good to be true, right? But what if it is true? Let me encourage you now, keep on investigating Jesus, keep on reading the Bible, keep on asking your questions (even send them to me). This is the wonderful, “too good” message I wrote about last week (read that here).
But for the grace of God…
We’d be trapped too. This is the rest of us—freed not by our own merit, but on the basis of Christ’s. Freed by the truth of Jesus alone. So, here’s where I’m gonna meddle with you one last time. Why then do we look down on others who are still caught up in the lie? (I do this too!) How often do we judge that “wordly sinner” when Jesus laid down his life for us “while we were still sinners” or punks, if you will (Romans 5:8)? So, my believing friends, here is my challenge for you (and me): share the truth. See others as Christ saw you and sees you still—not in judgment but in love. After all, we’re just the same, all of us “punk kids” who need Jesus to set us free. And thank God, Jesus loves punks!
Have you deceived yourself into thinking you’re a pretty good person, or do you identify with that “punk kid?”
Who’s one person you can share the truth with this week?
Thanks for reading,