Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him,
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples;
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Jesus is teaching people who at one point in time believed in him. Once he is done teaching them, they will be ready to throw stones at him to kill him. The truth that Jesus is trying to teach them is not enough for them. They want to create truths and shape freedom on their terms, not God’s.
Every year on October 31 or the last Sunday in October, Lutherans across the continuum of Lutheranism celebrate the Reformation. The night before All Saints 1517, Martin Luther stomps up to the door of the castle church in Wittenburg Germany and nails 95 theses---ways that the Church in his day had departed from keeping the Bible central authority to religious actions and that humans attain salvation through faith and not their “works.”
Luther had had enough with the Church. They were not professing faith in Christ in word and deed. Their biblically unfounded traditions were covering the truth of God’s love and grace that is given freely to us and to all.
As followers of Christ, we share God’s love through words and actions. This is Risen Lord’s mission statement. Just like the Church in Luther’s day, we can easily become entrapped by “the way things have always been done” to the point that it suffocates our mission.
If God’s word and Christ, himself, is not central to what we “profess” to be about as a congregation, we may lose sight of the truth. Our freedom as Christians would be lost in using the gift of faith to serve ourselves and our personalized agendas and truths.
Sharing God’s love has meant acknowledging hard truths this past year: that an invisible virus was deadly and refraining from in-person worship, wearing masks, and being vaccinated could help share God’s love instead of sharing COVID.
Sharing God’s love has meant acknowledging that truth comes from one’s lived experience and that it might be different than ours. When we dwell in God’s word through Christ, we learn to welcome and include those whose lived realities are different. Those can include the immigrant, BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color) and LGBTQIA. It might help us think about how we can be even more inclusive to those with cognitive or physical disabilities.
Sharing God’s love is confronting the truth that congregations aren’t silos of faith and ministry. We belong to the larger Body of Christ. Sharing God’s love might look like building ministry partnerships, like the one we’ve been working on with Tapestry Church.
What challenging new truths have you encountered in recent months and years?
How has the Holy Spirit shaped God’s truth in you through God’s word and your life experiences?