Friday, January 21, 2011

God's Gift of Free Will



I’m not a theologian, not by any means. I’m only a huge receiver of God’s love, mercy, and grace. That all comes together in a nicely wrapped package because of God giving me the gift of free will. I recently saw the movie When In Rome, and for whatever reason, it reminded me of free will, salvation, and God. (Movie Spoiler Ahead.) In the movie, the main character grabs coins from a "magical" water fountain and the men who threw the coins in the fountain previously fell madly in love with her. She ends up falling in love with one of the men. She is then conflicted with the option of having him against his will and under the spell. Or she can give him back the coin and see if he sincerely loves her back. She decides to give him the coin back. This is the heart of God. There is no way to know if the love is sincere unless the person really falls in love freely with his/her mind, body, and soul. A beloved analogy from Kierkegaard goes like this:

“Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden...

The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist – no one dared resist him. But would she love him?

She would say she loved him, or course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For its only in love that the unequal can be made equal.

He had to find a way to win the maiden’s love without overwhelming her and without destroying her free will to choose. The king realized that to win the maiden’s love, he had only one choice. He had to become like her, without power or riches and without the title of king. Only then would she be able to see him simply for who he was and not for what his position made him. He had to become her equal, and to do this he must leave all that he had."

This is exactly what God did. He left heaven. He came down to earth, was born in hay like an animal, lived as a poor carpenter's son, and did not do one miracle for Himself. He wooed the world. Not by might, not by force, but by love and grace. God demands justice for all the evil in the world and the payment is paid through the death of His Son. God sacrificed Himself so that I may live and my soul will never die.

James Emery White wrote about the Kierkegaard analogy: "Yes, this is the heart of God, and He is on just such a mission. But the deeper truth lies in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. We are not a beautiful maiden. There is nothing becoming in us whatsoever. Instead, we are desperately criminal, and the only rescue grace would bring would demand storming the Bastille in which we are rightfully held. This is precisely what He did. “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possible dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8-9, NIV) And that’s an even better story. And it’s the one story that the world does not already have, and most needs to hear."

Cross Posted at Pundit League

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