Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)
“I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:15-17)
SCRIPTURE = TRUTH = STRENGTH: These two scriptures scripture worked their way into my brain one morning as I drove away from the airport. I got up extra early to take our daughter and her husband over to Tampa International so they could board their flight back to Connecticut and home.
Sometimes, back when Naomi and her brother Andrew were growing up, I really did pray that God would somehow insulate my children from the world. Like Jesus, I wasn’t asking God to whisk them away so much as I was asking God to “protect them from the evil one.”
To be honest, civil liberties and freedom of choice were not exactly #1 on my list; I was more than willing for God to bend the rules and intervene – with or without my children’s consent. “Just get them grown, Lord,” was our constant refrain.
FREE WILL: But there remains that element of choice – even during those turbulent formational years. And choice is still a daily option. Intellectually, I understand that being “sanctified in the truth” is not anything that can be imposed externally…
“Here, let me sanctify you in the truth – hold still, it’s not going to hurt…” It simply doesn’t work that way. But, emotionally, I wanted God to skip the free will part and simply ride herd until the job was done.
Instead, and with faith, we had to watch and pray – in much the same way that God watches over God’s children – and we all have to do our very best to make sure that the truth is evident and authentic and accessible. Freedom is a necessary building block to wholeness.
Example? Most important.
But the moment we take away freedom, we also take away the possibility of legitimate growth.
Andrew Maul and Naomi Campbell (Jan 2013)
Years of pain and struggle and heartbreak have now yielded to joy. Andrew and Naomi are both young adults, and our children are making the kind of positive choices that we would have imposed on them as teens without regard to their free will (and, believe me, I would have, if I had the power of God). Instead, by respecting their freedom, we allowed them to emerge from their growing understanding of truth and develop the strength of character that defines them today.
Jesus pointed to God’s word as truth. The power of evil is resourceful; but God’s Word is a sword more than equal to the task. It is imperative that we immerse ourselves in truth so we are more than ready to take out stand when the time comes.
How can scripture be your word of truth today? – DEREK