John 8:31 & 32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
I was thinking about this scripture as I left work today. I was thinking that often this is quoted as the truth will "set" you free when in fact, it will "make" you free. Somewhere deep inside I knew there was a difference but I couldn't put my finger on it. I prayed about it as I was driving, just asking the Holy Spirit to reveal this to me; what is the difference? It seemed that I knew for sure there was a difference but it was just beyond my reach. I even wondered if it was something I had learned once a long time ago and just couldn't bring into focus right now.
Freedom takes many forms and means many things to individual people. I've never been in prison. I've never been in a psychiatric hospital in restraints. I've never been denied civil liberties. I've never been gripped by addiction. I've never been trapped in abuse. And yet, Jesus says that knowing the truth will make me free. This implies that we all need to be made free. Easily reasoned this means free from sin. In fact, this is scriptural in itself. While I am aware that I've been freed from the consequence of my sin even this didn't quite satisfy my question. What is freedom to me? What might the truth make free in me?
And do I understand if I have been set free or made free?
When I think of freedom I find a single word to encompass all that it is and that word is forgiveness. Forgiveness to me is freedom. This is the forgiveness of Christ modeled by the Mr. when I was a rotten wife in my twenties and he forgave as Jesus does. He forgave me with complete amnesty. A few times over the years immediately following our healing I'd begin to succumb to satan's accusations of how worthless I was. This would drive me to ask Dean's forgiveness again and again for old wounds. He didn't re-forgive me. He told me there was nothing left to forgive. It was not only gone in word but released from his heart. His hurt and anger was set free; and through this I was made free. I don't ask his forgiveness any longer because forgiveness that is truly given is once and forever. I continue to bask in the warmth of forgiveness first spoken over me eighteen years ago.
As for me, Christ in me healed the sickness in my heart when I truly and sincerely asked him to without motive to take it back and use it again. So I forgave Dean. I set him free from the labels I had placed on him and the list of offenses I had hung above his head. I set him free and I was made free.
Life is forever freeing those around us as we emulate Christ. If you are unable, for whatever reason, to meet my needs; I set you free from that expectation. And I am made free from disappointment. If you have sinned against me and do not want to make amends; I set you free from the voice of my accusations. And I am made free from anger.
Finally, this evening, I understood. To be set free someone has to be holding you captive. Someone is in control of your liberty. And in this, the captor is also imprisoned. If I have locked someone behind a door named "Hurt" I must stand on the other side of that door holding it shut. I must continually look at the Hurt and remember you as the one who wounded me. I cannot walk away from the door and into the light of Christ and the life he intends for me because if I step away you might escape. So I stand with my hand against the door holding you within your mistake. We are both captive.
When I embrace wisdom and faith; I will be drawn toward Christ and in the process I'll take my hand off the door. You will be set free.
I am made free. I was never the one behind the door so I am not set free. I am made free. I am changed into someone who sees grace and allows it to bathe my soul. I cannot hold a door shut against you. Grace takes its hand off the door and the prisoner within walks out. My freedom is that I no longer hold doors shut with pain, disappointment, fear, rage, anger, bitterness locked inside.
So forgiveness is freedom for me. My own forgiveness that so encompasses my being that I am not just set free from what was, I am made free and therefore not subject to what may be. I am free and cannot be again imprisoned. On either side of the door.
Christ recreated me, and in this, I was created free. I was reborn free. I am made free.
Maybe that is why my hands are free to stretch toward heaven.