I was raised with the concepts of free will and responsibility. These concepts helped to answer hard questions such as how a loving God would need to create a place like hell (among others). But is our free will a complete free will? How would a complete free will impact our perceptions with these sort of questions?
Lately I’ve been imagining this scenario. Hear me out… I’ll probably eventually make a point of some kind.
God is sitting upon His throne. He has a huge pickle jar filled with unanimated souls nearby. He removes the lid and pulls one out. He breathes into it, animating it. The soul is born into a body on earth and begins its journey. But imagine if that soul was given free will from the beginning. God pulls it out and animates it. Before sending it to earth, He tells this soul what they are getting into…
You will be born into a world of darkness and evil. You will suffer and endure this life in exchange for moments of happiness that you may encounter. At best, your troubles may be manageable but you will still grow old, frail, weak, sickly and eventually you will die. At worst, your troubles will make you long to die every day. Oh, and because you have that soul, you are responsible for it. If you make the wrong choices, a fate worse than death awaits you. Are you ready to sign on or would you rather opt out?
That would be total free will. I believe that most souls would opt out. I am pretty sure that I would.
You do not have the free will to choose to be born (or not be born) on this rotten place called earth. But you do have responsibility for your soul regardlessly.
This whole line of thought has troubled me. When I revisit the questions that free will is supposed to help answer I cannot help but to add one… how can a loving God continue to animate souls when He knows the condition of this present world and what He is sending them into.
I am not losing my faith. I know that we were created for relationship with Him that we need to choose of our own free will. I know that He has given us the Holy Spirit on this earth as the guide and comforter. And I know that Adam and Eve are the original sinners that broke this world with help from the devil. I just wish that when it was my turn, He would have given me an option to opt out.
Saint Paul told us that there is no sin without the law. Without the law, we do not know what sin is. A broken law cannot be accounted to us when there is no such defined law. The law defines God’s set of rules that we know have only been successfully fulfilled by One. For all the rest of us failures, it shows us just how hopeless we are without a Savior. In a similar way, I think that we need to be shown the reality of this world to understand the need for the hand of God to help us endure.
Endure what reality? Let me do a brain dump. This world is: death, darkness, evil, injustice, deceitful, broken, sick, corrupt, depraved, hateful, fake, careless, destructive, hopeless, selfish… and about three million more things you are probably thinking yourselves. All of these things are the traits of this world’s lord… Satan.
This is the fishbowl we swim in. It is impossible to dodge the woes of this world. We get beaten up by them every day. And we are largely powerless to overcome them alone. But we are responsible, no, obligated to endure anyway.
Everyone who has ever lived in this world has been negatively impacted by it. David, the one who was called a man after God’s own heart, succumbed to it… He was a murderer, adulterer, a lousy father and husband, and a schemer who’s actions with Bathsheba resulted in the deaths of Uriah, some of his fellow soldiers, and David/Bathsheba’s child… and he was one of the good guys. Just like the law, we all fail… except One… Jesus Himself was battered by this world yet He did NOT succumb to it. In the end, it beat and crucified Him. But the joke is on the lord of this world as God planned this for our redemption before we were even animated.
Sometimes I think about these hard questions and wonder. Today in church, the preacher asked the age old question “why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, the answer to that is not deep or philosophical. It’s found in several places in the Bible… Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20 and then repeated by Saint Paul in the New Testament, Romans 3:10-12. The answer is that the question is wrong… there is no one who is good… not even one. Why not?
Because this world is a tragedy. It’s a relentless torture chamber for all living things and a breeding ground for all things dark and evil. Its ruler has seen to that. And he has the dominion to accomplish it. For now… It has successfully beaten us all down such that every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
So what is there then? You are here and you are stuck for it.
Fear God and keep His commandments because this is for every one of us. God is going to bring every act to judgment whether hidden or not, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14). Does that sound awesome to you? Are you a person after God’s own heart like David or are you a chump like me?
It is not David’s sin and failures that defined him. It was his relationship with God that caused his heartfelt repentance from these terrible things. His heart was truly broken when he would realize how he had failed his God. In his prayer of repentance over the Bathsheba thing, it is important to notice that he begs God not to leave him or take His Holy Spirit from him. This isn’t a prayer of saving one’s self from hellfire. It’s a prayer of a man who knows what relationship is with God and cannot bare to be without it.
We cannot fear God and keep His commandments truly if we don’t know Him. It’s back to that part where we were created for relationship with Him. This is the part so many of us truly lack as we try to endure this life. The true relationship with God. Yes, He is still sending us down to this pit of doom. But He has also gone way beyond to offer us redemption and an opportunity for reclaiming relationship with Him. The next question we have to answer is do we want it?
It’s important to remember that this is not the earth that God intended when He created it. No, His intention was to walk in fellowship with mankind in person as He did with Adam before the sin.
If that world were still here, I believe we would all opt in. As it is for now… connect with God in sincerity… and endure.