“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“God, having placed good and evil in our power, has given us full freedom of choice; He does not keep back the unwilling, but embraces the willing.”
St. John Chrysostom
On the fourth day of July, each year Americans gather to celebrate their independence. We pause to thank God for things like freedom and the high price that was paid by so many through much war and strife so that we can live in such freedom; free from the fear of tyranny. But, freedom by itself, when left completely unchecked is not a good thing. In fact, freedom if not properly appreciated and kept in proper perspective will always lead to slavery.
Perhaps, we have come full circle in America today? In the 1700’s we rebelled against total tyranny. We were a governed people with no voice in the governance. Now, 240 years after throwing off such tyranny, it’s not hard to imagine tyranny reigning again in our future by both camps, the right and the left. Both are pulling our nation in polar opposite directions. It seems the pendulum swings hard these days. Freedom is rarely found in extremism. Rather, freedom is always found in truth. Now more than ever we must labor for truth.
Perhaps, we need to hear again voices of long ago? No, not the voices of our founding fathers, rather the voices of the ancient fathers of Christianity. St. John Chrysostom said that God placed both good and evil within the grasp of humanity; it is our choice how we wish to live. He delivered those words in a culture that was free to indulge in every kind of decadence that can be imagined, including adultery, pornography, the lavish wasting of wealth and resources. Ancient Antioch even had streets made of marble and lined with pure golden statues. Yet in it’s freedom, Antioch could not endure it’s own decay from within.
The Lord Jesus, in John 8, when speaking to those who would believe, reminded them they were free to believe or not, but it was in choosing to believe they would find true freedom. True freedom is only found in truth; “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Truth is the only thing that will check the extremes of unbounded freedom.
So where is truth today? How can we find the truth that will set us free from the extreme pull of the political pendulum? Alas, truth is still where it always was and always will be, in Jesus Christ and His Word. As St. John Chrysostom said, God embraces the willing. Are we willing to seek hard after truth? As willing as we were to fight for freedom? Let us remember, God will not hold back those who are unwilling, but He will embrace those who willingly seek after truth.
Grace & Peace,