This is the last installment in this series as we considered John 8:31-33. The amazing truth of the gospel is the only hope for physical, emotional, and spiritual freedom for mankind. When Jesus declared that knowing the truth was intrinsically tied to abiding in him, his intended message was that without the light comes from Jesus no one should have the expectation to know any form of truth.
If you remember the passage, Jesus gave a sequential and logical process for how truth operates in our lives. There is a clear path from abiding in Jesus’s word to becoming free. Let me suggest that abiding in Jesus’s word is the prerequisite, or the key, that unlocks our access to the knowledge of the truth. If this is in fact the case, you may correctly ask, why is it that so many Christians seem to miss the truth on social, secular, and political matters?
The answer to the question is much simpler than we may want to admit. While many Christians have been born again, and have received the Holy Spirit, they have not advanced beyond their spiritual infancy. They have not progressed into maturity. Many Christians spend years in church without advancing through the natural maturation of process of childhood, adolescence, young adult, and adult. The natural phases of physical life have a corresponding spiritual reality. This link is too often dismissed, and it has been to our detriment. While most Christians grow enough to have a fairly clear understanding of their own salvation and relationship with God, the reality is many, dare I say most, fail to make the connection between God’s revealed character and how God’s character finds expression in the world through us. Allow me one simple example.
One of God’s most significant revelations is that he is impartial. The implication of God’s impartial character is that God can never, under any circumstance, allow excuses for the guilty to escape righteous punishment. But equally as important, God abhors false accusations against the innocent because it perverts the correct application of justice. Impartiality plays such a central role in God’s character that God has stated the following: “You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous” (Deut. 16:19). This text says that partiality is a perversion of justice.
Solomon, writing about the subject of partiality said: “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good” (Prov. 20:23). Solomon flatly stated that partiality is an abomination to God. The implications of God’s impartial character are enormous for how Christians engage with the world around them. Failure to understand God’s impartial character will lead Christians to partial, prejudicial, and biased judgments and decisions. Often grounded in assumptions that are incongruent with God’s revelation of his character.
When Christians allow worldly philosophies to influence and dictate their biblical interpretation, they will inevitably end up twisting themselves into pretzels in order to excuse their inconsistent choices and decisions.
For instance, one of the most significant biblical revelations is that all human beings are created in God’s image. God’s image is the spiritual element that defines our personhood character qualities in light of God’s character. God’s image in us does not have skin color, nationality, culture, or political affiliation. God’s image is spiritual, and every single person born on this earth has equal value in God’s eyes. God does not, and cannot, judge people based on any external appearances, and if we claim to know God, neither can we. Therefore, any assessment of injustice and any solution to promote justice must not, at any moment, violate this essential reality. To do so, in either case would be an improper and inconsistent approach to the problem or solution.
One implication, as an example, of the truth about God’s image is that any prejudicial judgments based on skin color is an abomination to God. It is irrelevant whether the racist person is White, Black, Hispanic, Chinese, or from the deepest regions of the Brazilian jungle. If you, as a Christian, have made the statement that Blacks or Hispanics in America cannot be racist because they do not have control of any of the levers of power, then, you have now revealed yourself as the very thing you are objecting to. The narrow application of the standard means that its focus, and purpose are too restrictive to be an expression of God’s revealed truth. If we do not consider the actions of Hispanics and Blacks in other countries who do control the structures of influence, we are not really trying to embody the fullness of God’s revelation. This selective approach to the questions of injustice and justice exposes the incoherence on the entire exercise. You see, God’s impartiality does not make exemptions based on your prejudices, poverty, wealth, national origin, color of the skin, or the fact that your parents made too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when you were a child.
Jesus said: (1) abide in me, (2) be my disciples, (3) you will know the truth, and (4) the truth will set you free. Where does that leave us? We must acknowledge that if Christians do not or will not conduct themselves as if God’s character was relevant to how they live, then they may not be as free as they claim.