Freedom from “I Think”
Luke tells us at the beginning of his Gospel that he is not an eyewitness to Jesus, but he has studied about Jesus.
He wants to share the joy that he has received.Jesus coming into the world for us is joy because the new day has dawned. In the Old Testament, we read about Ezra reading the law to the people who were overjoyed at hearing the law. Why? Because they were held in captivity for so many years. They were just being allowed to return to the Holy Land of Jerusalem, to the land that was given to them by God. Now they would be able to live the law again in its fullness, in ways that they did not even remember.
When Ezra with reading the law to them, they were hearing it for the first time, all anew. They rejoiced in the law because it brought them back into rightful relationship with God.
Not too many people rejoice when the law is read to them. Normally when we talk about the law being read to us, we are not rejoicing. But the Jews understood it rightly. The law was given especially to them, not to the world, so that they might come into right relationship with God. Therefore, they rejoiced so much so that they listened attentively from the rising of the sun until midday. Jews knew that the law would lead them out of the captivity that they were in and into the freedom that God had desired for them. Their worship would draw them into that relationship with God.
The prophet Isaiah wrote about similar times, the coming back out of exile. Isaiah tells the Jewish people to wait for a day when they will be set free from the bonds of exile, free from the bonds of captivity. What is going to happen on that day?
“The blind will see.” We will finally be given the sight that leads us to God. We will know the law that frees our eyes from the blindness of the world.
“The captive will be set free.” Isaiah was speaking of captivity in the sense of exile, but our Lord meant something different. He was talking about a blindness and
captivity that does not come from exile or from foreign rulers or even from this world. He was talking about the blindness and captivity that come through our very selves, the blindness that comes when we ignore the law. When we ignore the word of God, when we ignore these beautiful teachings that we have, then we enslave ourselves and increase our misery.
The Jews did not understand the concept that Jesus came to teach: the law is not enough. The book, in and of itself, is not enough. We need God to tell us ultimately what is the meaning of the law and the book.
The people who bowed down and prostrated themselves before the law, before the throne of God, did not understand the law in its entirety. Not understanding, they fell from the grace that the Lord wished to give them. Jesus came, the Word made Flesh, to help us to understand the law in its entirety.
How do we enslave ourselves today? We enslave ourselves with the phrase, “I think.” The number one problem we get ourselves into is, first and foremost, “I think.” “I think this way.” “I want it to be this way; therefore, I am going to do it this way.” Instead, we should think, “What does God want?” That’s why the law, as it is written, is not enough. The Pharisees read the law, and they said, “Well, I think it means this.”
Jesus came and said, “Nope. Wrong. It actually means this.”Jesus told us what the law is. So we’re good, we think. Do we realize that, as Christians, we can fall into the same trap of “I think”? “Well, I have these few passages of Scripture, and I think I’ll meditate on them.” People begin to meditate on them, and extrapolate from them, and things start happening.
Someone will proclaim the Scripture to us, or explain the teachings of the Church, and what happens? We start saying things like, “Well, I know that it says this, but this is what I think.” Uh-oh. Where did that come from? That “I think” ultimately is enslavement, and blindness, even if involuntary.
We might have to consider the workings of Christ. We might have to investigate everything in Scripture again. We have to do that so that the teachings of Christ can be in our lives and can free us from that captivity of “I think.” Start investigating the words of Christ! If we stay in just “I think”, we lose what God thinks. We lose the path that God sets for us. We lose our humility. Ultimately we can fall prey to jealousy and misconceptions.
“Well, I know that the Church has these bishops and priests, but I think they’re wrong.” Oh, really? The bishops are the successors to the apostles. They have been given to us for a purpose. That purpose is to lead us out of the captivity into the light.
Father Larry Richards reminds us to read our Bible by saying, “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.” An excellent mantra for our lives. “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.” What does that mean? That means we need to be breaking open the Scriptures! That in order to be freed from this captivity of “I think,” we need to get into the mindset of, “Not what I will, but what You will, Lord.” I have to figure out what God says!
We need to have that same joy that the people of God had when they heard the Scriptures read to them. They are rejoicing, and they were weeping. Why were they weeping? They were weeping because God convicted them. They recognized that they fell short. What does the Lord say to us? “Do not weep when you find out that you fell short of the Lord. Rejoice! Rejoice, because you have been corrected. Rejoice, because you were blind, and now you can see. Rejoice, because you were held captive to your own desires, but now you can live in the freedom of the law that you know. Rejoice!”
The word of God makes us free. Have you studied it? Have you been like St. Luke and investigated about Jesus? Start with the New Testament, specifically the Gospels. Once again, “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.” In the morning, crack the Bible open and read three verses. Think about them throughout the day. Then, before you go to bed, read those same three verses again. Have I been thinking rightly, or do these verses change my thinking? If we keep reading our Bibles, we will be set free from the captivity that we impose upon ourselves, the captivity of “I think.”
Let us all rejoice this day and take to heart what Ezra said, “Do not weep.” Did you read your Bible today? If not, don’t weep. Go out, have something good to eat, but read your Bible first!--Father Jacob Meyer