31Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
Our gospel reading this morning reminds me of the one about a Cajun who was stopped by a game warden in South Louisiana with two ice chests of fish, leaving a bayou well known for its fishing. The game warden asked the man, “Do you have a license to catch those fish?” “Naw, ma fren, I ain’t got none of dem, no. Deez here are my pet fish.” “Pet fish?” “Ya. Avery night I take deez here fish down to de bayou and let dem swim’ round for a while. Den I whistle and dey jump rat back inta dis here ice chest and I take dem home.” “That’s a bunch of hooey! Fish can’t do that!” The Cajun looked at the game warden for a moment and then said, “It’s de truth ma’ fren. I’ll show you. It really works.” “Okay, I’ve GOT to see this!” The Cajun poured the fish into the bayou and stood and waited. After several minutes, the game warden turned to him and said, “Well?” “Well, what?” said the Cajun “When are you going to call them back?” “Call who back?” “The FISH!” “What fish?”
That clever Cajun pulled a fast one on that poor, ole warden…”it’s de truth ma’ fren!” The so-called “truth” sure set those fish free and kept that Cajun from getting a hefty fine. Yes, I understand I’m playing with Jesus’ words a little but sadly we live in times where all sorts of “Cajuns” are out there playing with truth and manipulating truth to fit their agendas. Truth has become subjective. It’s lost its objectivity…its universality. One man’s truth can be drastically different from another man’s truth and we’ve bent over backwards to accommodate both truths. Both truths have equal value in today’s world and we’ve removed any degree of judgment. It’s hard to know which truth is right and which truth is wrong anymore and it’s quickly becoming a moral mess out there as truth gets manipulated more and more by our leaders. Are there any universal, objective truths anymore? Can our world handle universal, objective truths anymore?
Of course, our world can handle them and of course, there are still universal, objective truths out there! This is still God’s world no matter how much we want to claim ownership of it! This is still God’s world no matter how much we want to make a mess of it! This is still God’s world no matter how much we play with and accommodate each other’s truths! And in God there are nothing but universal, objective truths. There IS an order to our world that is rooted in God’s universal, objective truths. What are some of God’s truths? For starters, God is love. Everything God says or does comes from a deep and abiding love for his creation. God loves us so very much and wants nothing but the best for us. God wants us to live in his love and share his love with those around us. God wants us to live unafraid and assured of his love. God’s love is never-ending and unconditional. Nothing we do or say could ever cause God to stop loving us. God loves us…always has and always will!
Now then, God is also life. Everything God says or does is to ensure that life continues on. God has an investment in his creation, He wants it to flourish and grow. Even in death, God creates anew so that life will abound and expand. God sees death as nothing but a transformation into new life. In dying, we are simply made anew. We ought not be afraid of death but welcome it as just another process of life. God is and for life! In our first reading, we heard the prophet Jeremiah proclaim how God entered into yet another covenant with his beloved people even though they had broken the covenants He had made with them in the past. This time He etched his love and forgiveness on their innermost beings…on their hearts so that they would never wonder whether God loved them or forgave them. With his covenant, they no longer feared or doubted his love and mercy. Of course, that covenant extends to you and me. God has placed his love and mercy deep within us. We should never fear and doubt this. And because that love and mercy is deep within us, we can live fully and gloriously. We can bring glory to God in all that we do! Life begets more life.
Another truth about God is that He is gracious. God is eager to forgive us when we break covenant with him. God is more than willing to offer second chances when we screw up. And we screw up a lot! But we must go to him and boldly confess our sins if we are to receive his grace and mercy. As 1 John 1:8 says, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” God’s life and love, though deep within us, cannot be fully realized unless we confess our sins and ask for grace and mercy. Be assured that God is gracious and eagerly bestows his truth in grace and mercy upon those who confess their sin and seek forgiveness.
Another truth? God is faithful. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God gave his only Son so that we might live! God stays true to us! God doesn’t abandon us but finds a way to forever stay connected with us through his Son…through his resurrected Son. Later in John, we hear Jesus boldly proclaim, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (14:6) Jesus is the truth of God—the love, the life, the grace, the faithfulness. All we have to do is believe in him and we will know the truth of God.
Yes, we live in a world that likes to twist and warp truth. We live in a world that tempts us into believing that truth is subjective. But we can’t forget this is still God’s world. “Be still and know that I am God!” We can’t twist and warp God’s truth. God IS love, God IS live, God IS gracious, God IS faithful. This IS universal, objective truth! As we celebrate yet again our church’s time of reformation, when it reclaimed God’s truth after years of espousing mistruth, let us cling to God’s universal, objective truth. Let honor truth in our relationships with each and with God. Let us be assured of David’s words in his 145th psalm, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.