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It’s Is Who You Are That Makes the Difference

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples John 8:31-32f

             I remember a group of people demonstrating in protest of what they called mistreatment by the police.  They were saying (I don’t know if it’s true or not) that they were being treated differently than others because they were black.  I doubt there are many of us that don’t know the experience of being treated a certain way because of who we are—black,   white, rich, poor, male, female.  We call it discrimination.  It takes a horrible toll on human lives and spirits.
            It is wrong to limit someone’s access to a job because he is black.  It is wrong to grant special favors to a person because she is rich.  It is wrong to tell a person they can’t be a leader in the church because she is a woman.
            But, all that said—in the final analysis, who you are IS what matters.  I think there is something within us that knows that and that is the reason that we believe discrimination is so evil.  Because discrimination is based on differences that are not about who we are in the importance sense.
            Some of Jesus’ most angry and bitter confrontations were over this very issue and that is what our lesson is about today.  No one can ever read this with any sense of reality and think of Jesus as a mealy-mouthed, compromising, political type again.  His words nearly drip with acid as He speaks clear hard truths).
            What Jesus says here is that who you are determines your destiny.  It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, educated or uneducated, a Philadelphia Eagles or Washington Redskins fan.  BUT who you are is what matters and Jesus never put the issue in more stark terms: disciple/child of God or child of the devil.  It is the difference between those who will “never see death” and those who will “Die in…[their] sins.”
            The test of a person is her/his reaction to Jesus.  It is not mere emotional attraction, or inclination, or even admiration that is discipleship.  It is those who believe what He says and put their personal trust in Him to become a new person.  These keep his word (do what He asks),  know the truth, and are free (sons and daughters of God) and will not see death.

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