Free Will in You and Me
Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Well, whoever started the rumor that 2020 was gonna be in our rear-view mirror, and 2021 was going to be a nice reset for a new year, LIED. This is not a nice reset or a new beginning. This is more of the same and I want a refund, like now.
Unfortunately for us we do not get to decide how this world turns on its axis. This beautiful place in which we live is a dumpster fire and there's a good chance we are going to be living with the ashes for a long time. Because the world can't heal itself. Our wounds are too deep, too complex, too evil.
This place is in need of a Savior, and Christians are placed here as a means for other humans to see that Savior. Our burden is to make sure we are effective tools in The Redeemer's hands. The question is - how do we do that well? Now, this is where any blogger, podcaster, minister, preacher or influencer worth their salt would provide you with an answer.
But I can't.... I got nothin'.
The level of disagreement among people I respect, know and love on how best to interact with the world right now is incredibly intense. There is intense agreement, and intense disagreement. Everyone has their own opinion of what is right and wrong - both in WHAT to say and HOW to say it.
I'm often not sure myself how to interact when faced with a person's absolute certainty in the correctness of their actions, or when I see a believer treat another human-being with contempt because "they deserved it" based on an online comment or Like. All I keep thinking is... I don't think Jesus wants this for us. This heightened sense of doom and dismay, of anger and resentment. We are beating our heads against a brick wall because we cannot control the world, and yet every day we try really hard to control it anyway.
Here's the reality of it - not only does God provide the way, the truth and the light through his son Jesus, God also provides this incredible thing in his creation called Free Will. So, every person is able to pick whether or not they FOLLOW the way, the truth and the light. But the light is there, and it always illuminates the way for all that want to see the Truth.
Seriously, sometimes I wonder, what on earth was God thinking? He created us. He knows us. He knows ME. He knows my limitations and lack of ability. He KNEW what this world would do with free will, the horror show of death and destruction his human creation would meet out on each other.
Then, I remember - He's God. I'm not.
God built us in his image. On the opposite side of sin and evil is goodness and mercy, grace and peace and love. The destruction we cause is met with the incredible fierceness of a God who loves us. We do not need to pick up the sword, because God already has decided the fate of the world. All we are called to do is help show the way, the truth and the light so others may not perish but instead have eternal life. Then every human decides of their own free will if they are Christ-followers.
Sometimes pointing others to Jesus does require a fight. A fight to save those who are weak and vulnerable, a fight to bring food to the poor and shelter to the homeless. Sometimes we are required to ACT from a place filled with the knowledge that Jesus takes care of those who cannot care for themselves. James 2:16 says, "and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warm and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" I can shout about my faith from rooftops but if I care little about the physical well-being of others, no one will believe me when I say Jesus holds the answers. Why would they believe I can point to the answer for their troubles, when they don't believe I care about their troubles?
However, every day is a battle within each of us to take our own measure. To study our motives for the words we speak and the actions we either do or do not take. I don't hold the solution on how you are supposed to walk through life well for you - because God made you and I did not. However, I do know one thing - you have a Savior and we can show the world Jesus.
So maybe "walking well" begins by asking ourselves some personal questions. Asking ourselves - what am I trying to control, and why am I trying to control it? In responding to others do I demonstrate peace or do I demonstrate fear? Do I show a need for controlling God's creation, or do I offer a deep love for other God-created human beings? God gave mankind free will, am I trying to manipulate someone's God-given choices? Do I remember God created me, Jesus is with me, and the Holy Spirit is within me?
And even still, I must ask, "Is God well-pleased with me, with my thoughts and my actions?"
God has Creator-designed roles for you and I to play. If I am not demonstrating a loving Savior to the world, through what I do and what I say, then chances are pretty strong I am in need of a course correction. Sometimes all that is required is for me to remember who I am in Christ, and who God calls me to point to with every word out of my mouth and with every letter typed on a screen.
Maybe start there?
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Today's Noisy Narratives podcast is a discussion about control. We don't agree on everything, or always know what we are doing. But there is beauty is God's redeeming love and our longing to celebrate Jesus in the lives of others. We hope you are blessed through our conversation. You can listen here.