Tim Keller | October 8, 2006
We’re looking at the things that trouble people the most about Christianity. Now, we come to one that could be put like this: “Christians believe they have absolute truth. They have some things everyone should believe and everyone should do. But people who have absolute truth,” the objection goes, “undermine freedom. They tend to oppress people who are different than they are and impose their views on others. Everyone should be free to determine their own truth and what is right or wrong for them.”
What do we say to that? There are three things to say. Truth is a lot more important than you would think, freedom is a lot more complex than you would think, and Jesus is a lot more liberating than you think. Those principles are found in this passage. Let’s look at them.
Paul, one of Jesus’ followers, had to correct some people who were spreading a wrong message about the good news of Jesus. They were saying that in order to be accepted by God, you needed to follow all the old rules from the Jewish law. Paul had to remind them, and even his friend Peter, that it’s faith in Jesus, not following rules, that makes us right with God. This story teaches us about the importance of truth, the real meaning of freedom, and how Jesus sets us free.
1. Truth is more important than you think
Paul was arguing about whether non-Jewish people had to follow Jewish laws to be accepted by God. This shows how truth and freedom are connected. Sometimes, people follow God’s rules for the wrong reasons, like trying to feel better than others. But true freedom comes from knowing and following the truth. For example, the Amish people showed amazing forgiveness when they faced a terrible tragedy because their deep belief in Jesus’ teachings gave them the strength.
2. Freedom is much more complex than you think
True freedom is not about having no rules at all. It’s about having the right kind of rules that help us become our best selves. For example, if you want to be healthy or good at playing an instrument, you need to follow certain rules and disciplines. It’s the same with love. When we choose to put others first in love, we find real joy and fulfillment. Even when we surrender to God’s truth, it may feel scary, but it actually leads us to a better kind of freedom.
3. Jesus is more liberating than you thought
Truth isn’t just a concept or a set of rules. It is a person – Jesus. And when we have a relationship with Him, it’s not a one-way street. We both give and receive. The good news is that Jesus gave up His own freedom for us. This truth sets us free by showing us how valuable we are to God and freeing us from fear and worry. Jesus’ truth and love liberate us.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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