When I was in high school I was aggressively opposed to any faith in Jesus. Even though my parents were missionaries, we went to church each Sunday, we read Scripture before meals, I was strongly opposed to any type of Christian faith, and they knew it. My struggle was that I did not want anyone or anything to tie me down and Christian faith as I understood it was a set of rules that we had to follow in order to be a Christian. To be fair to my parents, this was not their lesson, this was something that I had picked up along the way with my exposure to more fundamentalist Christianity. But I wanted a freedom of thought and life that I believed Christianity could not provide.
January 14, 1986 (I just realized this was 30 years ago), when I was a senior in high school I came to know Jesus and the relationship that he provided. At a winter retreat I had a born-again moment when I realized that following Jesus was not about rules, but rather about a relationship, that changed everything and I gave my life to him. John 8:32 was instrumental to me in understanding who Jesus is. Before I was a disciple I had put in the year book as a senior that my goal in life was: “to be free”. As a result, when Jesus says: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” it gave me the understanding that Jesus could provide me with a life of freedom. When we become disciples of Jesus Christ we are free to do anything that we want, because what we want would be the same as that which our Father would want. Without a doubt John 8:32 is my absolute favorite verse in all Scripture.
But most people want to focus in on verses 1-11 with a powerful story of Jesus forgiving an adulteress in the middle of a public square. This story is repeatedly used as an example of how Jesus takes an impossible situation and allows His Grace to flow through it. The words we use today in order to decide what to do in impossible situations with people is whether we are enabling or empowering people. How does Jesus’ forgiveness empower this woman instead of enable her? I don’t have an answer. He just takes a risk with her and we don’t know if she goes back to sinning or not. We hope that the shock of her near death experience is enough to bring her back to a recognition of what God wants her to do in her life. But we just don’t know. Jesus tells her to go and sin no more, but doesn’t set up any parameters to make sure that she doesn’t go and sin no more. I’m wondering if that is a lesson for us anytime we want to control the future of someone over whom we might have some certain responsibilities. Take a risk and allow them to explore and find what they are able to do.