Monday, September 19, 2011

Free in Truth

A few months ago someone gave me a t-shirt with the words "I AM FREE" and underneath a Bible reference - "John 8:32."  It doesn't look like the one pictured here.  It's white with black letters.  It doesn't have anything else on it, not even the words of Jesus from John 8:32.  What are those words?
"You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
In this part of John's gospel, Jesus is having a discussion with the religious leaders.  The religious leaders don't believe Jesus can be any kind of savior or messiah because he doesn't have the right credentials. Jesus reply is this: "It's not a matter of which professional group or religious society we belong to.  It's only a matter of truth.  Truth is truth, whether it's accepted by you or not.  Therefore, anyone who knows and teaches the truth is free from spiritual domination of any kind, whether from human beings or from the deceptions of human nature.  Being free is just a matter of knowing the truth, and," he says, "my Word is just that--it is truth."

I'm thinking about that as we at Crossroads are discovering who we really are as a church.  We are a sort of "toddler" church, a very young group of believers that just getting to its feet.  We're thankful for the partners we have--both those in our local area and those further away.  They walk beside us as we walk beside one another, holding one another up.  One thing we don't want to do is to start depending on man made rules, so-called "infallible" doctrines, unbreakable traditions or institutional requirements.  Those are traps we want to avoid.  We believe God is calling us to be free.

One sign of this freedom is an unwillingness to lock ourselves (or others) into ways in which we do church ceremonies.  This coming Sunday we will celebrate Crossroads' first baptism.  Someone from our church is roughing up a baptismal font.  The baptism will honor the responsibility of parents to teach and raise their children in a way that honors God and trusts Jesus.  When parents bring their children to be baptized, that's what they do.  They recognize that their love, and their guidance, is not enough.  As they baptize their children, they are honoring great commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).  They will baptize first and teach the children to obey afterward.  They trust that God works through baptism, as it says in Romans 6:4.  They don't believe it matters how much water is used or that God "requires" any particular way for baptism to be done.  Others will do it differently, desiring their children to come to repentance before baptism.  I believe the Bible honors both, and so will we, so help us God.

Religious people so often want others to conform to their own standards, somehow trying to enforce their interpretations of God's Word and bind others to it.  It's my prayer that we at Crossroads will be, and remain, truly free, bound only by the truth of God's Word, truth that never fails, but truth that we never interpret with complete clarity.  In this life there are many things we will never know pefrectly (see 1 Cor 13:12).  Some things are very clear, other things are not.  Christian scholars and teachers over the centuries have disagreed about baptism and other in a church-dividing way.  We at Crossroads, together with many in the Alliance of Renewal Churches, will not do this, so help us God.

If you're looking for a church that is free and truthful, check us out.  And pray for us, that we will not fall into legalism of any kind.

Such freedom may make us feel less secure, from a human point of view.  It will have us relying on God alone.

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