“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”! Taken at face value, an unambiguous, ringing and powerful statement of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in John’s Gospel.
This freedom is taken (and mis-taken) in many ways. A contemporary reading would have us free to do what we want, when we want and that without inhibition, which is pretty much the standard dictionary definition. And yet when we look at the complete passage, Jesus’ statement is conditional on our knowing the truth, and that such knowledge flows from us continuing with, abiding in and following Him.
The question then becomes not so much about what we are free to do, as much as it is what we are free from. What indeed are those restraints that Jesus is speaking of in such unequivocal terms? What are we to be freed from?
At the time, his audience immediately reverted to their contemporary context of slavery and servitude, while Jesus re-directed their (and our?) focus to those individual actions that keep us imprisoned. The dark ambitions of greed, jealousy, addiction, and pride can hold us with an inexorable grip that has little or nothing to do with shifting societal circumstance. Indeed, the full release from such tyranny is what we find in the simple, direct and powerful message of the Bible. The message of faith, hope and love comes fully to bear on our lives and works its daily work to effect our freedom and keep us free.