It is a powerful question where we have to dig a little to understand. We begin with a video today.
The question has two implications
1. God’s ‘Let’ting (anything bad)
2. Death of babies and young people (will be dealt tomorrow)
First we consider the first part today.
We are curious as human beings
- We demand that we be allowed to make our own mistakes;
- That we have the right to be individuals;
- That we have the right to do as we please.
And we are right in doing so – we do have that right, provided of course that it does not inflict a cost on someone else, that we are not making someone else the victim of our demands and that we are not doing so at someone else’s expense.
Even more curiously – we only demand this right when things are working out fine for us, when things are going ‘our way’: When things go wrong, we demand protection. From our parents, from God. Now suddenly our right to do as we please becomes our right to be protected from the folly of our own decisions.
We are curious Christians also
In the same way we want to be Christians, but at the same time we want the right to ‘break the rules, or bend them a little’ and then we will go back to church on Sunday and ask forgiveness for what we have done, with the full intent to do so again in the coming week – whether it is drinking to excess or being promiscuous or anything else in-between. We seek the short term ‘pleasures’ of the flesh and then cannot understand why it leaves us feeling empty and in need of more of the same.
Ever wondered about that? The fact that you CAN do this? That God does not reach out and punish us each time we make mistakes or commit sins although He knows what we are doing? He can, but He doesn’t. God does not interfere in our lives unnecessarily. He has already called us to life. The Bible shows very few examples where the Lord God reached out and ‘meddled’ in someone’s life. Each time it was for a leader to step forward, whether it was Abraham, or Elijah. But never with ordinary mortals – only when he needed a messenger or a leader for a specific purpose.
We are NOT robots, we are not God’s lackeys or repressed servants. If we were, there would be no sin on earth. But the Lord our God wants us to reach out and love Him out of our own free will – because we want to. Not because He has programmed us to.
Therefore we have the right of self-determination – we have the ability and the right, indeed the obligation, to CHOOSE. We can choose to love God, or we can choose to ignore Him. But, with that right to self-determination and free will, that right to choose, comes the ability to be self-destructive, even to kill ourselves. In the German language the word ‘suicide’ is ‘selbstmord’ – self murder. It is a terrible word. In the same way as we have the right and ability to kill someone else, we do have the freedom and ability to murder ourselves.
As human beings created in the image of God we are capable of the most wondrous empathy and compassion for our fellow person, and yet also capable of the most vile acts of torture and rape and the most reprehensible thing of all – taking the life of another human being. Or to commit suicide.
God can prevent this, but in doing so He would take away our universal right of self-determination, our free will. This is a question that has been raging as long as Christianity itself. It has exercised the collective minds of the early church fathers since St. Augustine in AD 426 and even before (source).
St Augustine quotes the Apostle Paul, James and John to show how we can choose, because we have free will. What is interesting too is that virtually all religions and belief systems agree on this point – that we have free will – the right to make mistakes and the ability to choose to do what is morally right, to choose God or to reject Him.
God does not demand our love – He asks it, but He leaves the choice up to us whether we choose to accept Him or reject Him. If our every actions were controlled by God, would we be human? There are many arguments for and against this, but the fact is, if we lived in a perfect world, we would be in heaven already, we would not have to earn the right to enter it, so what purpose would earthly life have? I would venture to say – none whatsoever. It would be redundant.
(Written by Jeremy Nel)
Reflection: How would you feel if somebody interfered in your life by controlling all you do?
Tomorrow: Why Babies and Young People die?
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