When he pushed a 2×4 into the bear trap, the huge, rusty, steel jaws of that thing snapped shut, breaking that piece of lumber like a toothpick. Everyone in that football stadium, attending Promise Keepers, flinched from the violent sound of it. Then a father and his son were invited up onto the stage. The son was blindfolded while a few bear traps were placed in the middle of the stage. The father then called to his son, telling him to listen to his instructions as he walked across the stage. At one point, as the kid was heading right toward a trap, the father shouted, “STOP!” He did stop. He followed his father’s spoken instructions, eventually winding up safely in his father’s embrace. As you can imagine, this object lesson was indelibly pressed upon us that day.
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
We are blindfolded from the truth in this earthly life, deceived by our limited understanding and false assumptions. We stumble through life, unknowingly and inevitably heading toward peril. That is, unless we “hold to” the teaching of Jesus. It’s not enough to hear Him say, “STOP!” Holding to His teaching means also responding to what He says. If we do, Jesus says, we will “know the truth and the truth will set [us] free.” Real freedom comes to us when we carefully follow the instructions spoken to us by the One Who knows where the traps are. Real freedom is the path that leads to the full embrace of our Father.
July 4th is the day we celebrate freedom in this country. According to our Declaration of Independence, we believe all people have been “endowed by their Creator” with the “unalienable right” to liberty or freedom. Such freedom may be our right but it is not guaranteed to those who refuse to listen and respond to the Creator. It is those who “hold to [His] teaching” who “know the truth” and are thereby set free.