John 8:31-41: No room…
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’33 They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.]’39 ‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered.‘If you were Abraham’s children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.’‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’ NIV
”…you have no room for my word” (37b).
When Jesus, the ‘Logos’ – the living ‘Word’ – was born in Bethlehem, there was no room for Him in the inn. Later on in life, as the Word spoke His word, He found there was still no room for it in many a heart.
How about you? Have you got room for His word today? Room for all the space it will require? Room for every aspect of that word? Making room for the word of Christ will almost certainly mean that some other things have to go. In with the new and out with the old!
Do you make room in your life daily for this word – not just to read it but also to apply it?
Somebody said something like this, ”We belong to a church that will permit us to not obey Christ’s word; but it will not allow us to say that’s what we’re doing.” We (for whatever the reasons) tolerate a lot of bad behaviour in church life without challenging or rebuking it.
There are people in churches today who profess strong religious affiliation (33, 39a, 41b), but who have little room, if any, for the word. The sermon must be no more than five minutes, and they certainly want the preacher to cook up something bland. They don’t want any red hot ‘vinderloo’ strength sermons. They may not be so extreme as to wantto kill the clergyman, but they will definitely oppose him, snap at his heels and run him out of town if at all possible. Many an evangelical preacher has suffered at the hands of unconverted congregants. When people are set against the gospel, and don’t want to know the Biblical Christ, they show their true colours. They reveal their spiritual parentage. They show just how much they resemble their ‘dad’.
Making room for Christ’s word will entail perseverance (31), ‘holding’ to that word through all kinds of circumstantial ‘weather’. Holding doesn’t mean merely having a theological standpoint. It involves practising your beliefs day by day. The truth believed and lived out through a lifetime will produce a life of genuine freedom. We are called to the obedience of sonship, in which we obey our Father because we love Him. It’s not because we have to but because we want to. In Dan White junior’s excellent book, ‘Subterranean’, he talks in one chapter about how the current education system extracts people from life situations where the knowledge they are learning should be worked out. It separates them from life in the ‘real world’. It takes them into the academy and away from the ‘coal face’. He says that the way people learn in the world has also affected teaching in the church. But ”What matters…what is dynamite is what is truly practiced” (p.36).
Making room for Christ’s word will result in purity (34; see also Psalm 119:9, 11). There is power in Christ’s word to set you free from sin. But do you want this liberation? Or have you got quite used to your life being enemy occupied territory? Have you accommodated yourself to the presence of invaders in your life who really ought not to be there?
Warren Wiersbe makes the point that Satan imposes slavery that seems like freedom (2 Peter 2:19) – and I will add that we can quite enjoy it.
”The swallow would not thank you to be freed to live on carrion, but only to mount again into the sunny air. Jesus frees us by the truth. The slavegirl will no longer serve in the house of her cruel oppressor, when she learns that the act of emancipation has passed and has no longer any claim upon her.” F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.466.
PRAYER: Lord, by your grace, I open my life to your word today. Let it shape all I am and do.