About Jesus Steve Sweetman
In The Land Of The Free
In 1959 I was 8 years old.
With my windup plastic machine gun in hand, I rounded 3 corners,
walked up a hill, passed by a house that supposedly had a bomb shelter
in its back yard, turned another corner, and entered the war zone.
I felt a bit embarrassed about my plastic machine gun.
Other boys had air riffles. They looked and sounded very real,
way too real for my dad's liking. So,
every recess, in the back of the school yard, I joined the fight against
communism with my dad's weapon of choice.
Maintaining the freedom our parents so valiantly fought for in
World War 2 seemed to be worth the embarrassment.
In 1961 the Berlin Wall was erected to divide
into east and west. In the
minds of the western world, the wall symbolized Soviet style communist
oppression, the very oppression I attempted to fend off with my plastic
machine gun. It was a big
task for a little boy.
Anyone who grew up in the 1950's and 1960's, as I
did, remembers, the "cold war".
It wasn't an all out war. It
was a frigid chill between east and west, especially between the Soviets
and the Americans. We were
worried that the chill would melt down into an explosive nuclear
disaster. Things intensified
by the late 1970's and early 1980's with the introduction of Star Wars
technology, American short range missiles in Europe, Soviet aggression, and failed peace talks.
It was June 12, 1987.
was celebrating its 750th birthday.
While standing at the Brandenburg Gate in
Jesus made a statement about freedom that would
partly define His legacy as well. "You
will know the truth and the truth will set you free". (John 8:32) For
years Christians and non-Christians alike have echoed these words with
little understanding of their true meaning.
Jesus spoke these words to Jews who had known very
little freedom throughout their history.
Upon hearing these words the Jews arrogantly proclaimed, "We
are Abraham's descendents and have never been slaves of anyone.
How can you say that we shall be set free"?
Jesus must have been dumbfounded by the stupidity of their
response. Jews were seldom
free from the domination of others, and at that precise moment, they
were subject to Rome. Jesus simply answered by
saying, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of
The two important words here are the words
"truth" and "free". In
verse 31 Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching … then you will
know the truth …" What
Jesus taught is ultimate truth. In
verse 34 Jesus said, "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin".
Being free means to be free from sin, not from
"You will know the truth and the truth will set
you free" means that when you know and implement the truth of what
Jesus taught, you will be free from the slavery of sin and its
consequences. The fall of
the Berlin Wall and the
I live a few houses down from the war zone, the
school yard where my friends and I fought for freedom.
Like a prison, the school is fenced in, gated, and locked up
tight. Only authorized
individuals can enter, and then only after the secretary remotely
unlocks the front door. This
is the very school yard where my friends and I struggled against
oppression. Is this the
freedom we fought for?
My neighbour discovered he had been under
overheard him and his friend planning a terrorist attack while sipping
coffee in a coffee shop, or so they thought.
When the undercover agent learned that the attack being planned
was on an online war game, the case was closed. Is
this spirit of suspicion the freedom a generation fought and died for?
The implementation of the
bombers plans were immortalized on various security video cameras.
As useful as these cameras are, prior to 911, many of us thought
they were an invasion of personal privacy.
Have we freely given up some freedom to secure freedom?
When you're patted down or stripped searched at the
airport, is this the freedom you anticipated when the wall fell? When
Americans are being pressured to relinquish certain constitutional
rights, is this the freedom their nation was founded upon?
still the land of the brave and free?
Is the west really free?
From a Biblical perspective, it's easy to figure out.
When the national consensus rejects the truth of Jesus' teaching,
the nation doesn't know the truth that sets it free from sin and its
consequences. When you lay
aside "thou shall not kill", you will kill, and, when you
kill, legislative measures will be enforced to maintain freedom, and in
this case, freedom from murderers. This
is the problem. These
legislative measures infringe on the very freedom they are meant to
preserve. The more of these
measures we enact, the less free we are.
We become slaves to the very measures that are meant to keep us
free. We become slaves
in the land of the so-called free.
As important as security cameras and all the rest now
are, they're a product of the sin we could be set free from.
If the national consensus of a nation could embrace the truth of
Jesus' teaching, those in that nation would not only be free from sin,
but free from the legislative measures that enslaves them.
"If you hold to my teaching … then you will
know the truth, and the truth will set you free". (John 8:31-32)