Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Can We Choose
To Move to the Far Shores
And Posses the Land There?
Is it Fate, or God’s Will?
Or Greedy Human Ambition That Will Only Destroy Us?
For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good fortune that I now promise them.
1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
Words of Grace For Today
Today we exercise our human capacities to accomplish work that we endeavour to complete. It is often work that puts us one step closer to a goal, towards a future that we see possible for ourselves or for other people. Some goals are little more than our survival, or others’ survival. Most often even those are some variation of survival plus a better life. It is honourable to wish others to have more than the bare minimum to survive, to enjoy life abundant as God promises us all people can have. It is honourable to strive to have life abundant ourselves, to have a measure of security against those things that endanger our survival. These are the blessings of God for us that we can give them to others.
We create real evil for ourselves and many other people when we try to create securities that protect us from what we cannot protect ourselves, for then there is no end to what we take out of life for ourselves, and we inevitably take it from others at others’ expense (sometimes even their lives) and we find ourselves incapable of giving to others that which we’ve taken from others. We hoard it for ourselves.
This is all about freewill. God gave humans freewill, and we certainly exercise it, both in the beauty of love for others and all of creation … BUT also in the ugly greed and avarice that robs others and all creation of life itself.
Jeremiah expresses an ancient view of freewill. We may think we have freewill, but God at least partially intervenes and brings woe as punishment for sin and blessings as reward for righteousness to God’s people.
The Vikings TV show portrays the exploits of Ragnar Lothbrok and his contemporaries (dramatized beyond what we know of that time from the available historical accounts.) The Norse gods and the Christian God play a large part in the lives of all the people, from the leaders driven to conquer and rule more territory, to the warrior and soldiers who fight for leaders, sometimes this one, other times that one, and the peasants and farmers who provide for their leaders generously and sometimes enough for their own families. The interplay provides one overriding truth (chosen by the writers and creators), which is that the gods and God are used to further the aspirations of the most ambitious, to ameliorate those who receive no advantage, and to explain everything as ‘the will of the gods’ or as it is ordained by God.
Fate. These statements undercut human freewill and responsibility.
The most ambitious and destructive individuals see all this and use this ‘religious’ excuse in every way possible to further their own ambitions … which inevitably costs many other people their lives! The freewill of these people is to use the mass acceptance of Fate as an explanation for the course of life to hide their own sins so freely done.
It is a horrible and accurate portrayal of what the human heart is capable of. Let no one today be so foolish to think this does not continue, and will continue as long as humans survive. So how are we to respond to the pervasive sin and evil wrought so freely by humans?
We cannot declare with any honesty that we are entirely free of such sin and evil. There is no one that qualifies for that purity, no one except Jesus, the Christ … who was God.
The Way of life that Jesus lead his followers to pursue, to endeavor to accomplish each day in their lives (and we in our lives) is to accept first one’s own sinfulness from which one cannot be free, to then trust God’s promise to love and forgive us even though we cannot deserve such love, to accept and trust that while we remain yet sinners God also makes us into saints who are capable of doing God’s work on earth. We remain able to choose to love God, all people, and all creation, even though we cannot help ourselves from choosing to turn from loving God, all people and all creation.
What this makes of our lives is not pre-determined by God. Our eternal end is offered to us by God, which is that we are God’s own children and God will bring us home, even as God will accompany us each day, each moment of our lives. As Christ is more and more revealed to us in our short lives and through all of history, so we will be more and more like him, for he has claimed us for God to be adopted as God’s own children.
What difference does this make for us and our endeavours each day?
We can trust that we can choose to bring life abundant to others with all God has provided us. This is the simple purpose of our lives. This is how our freewill can be directed by fearing and loving God above all else, loving all other people as (well as) ourselves, and even our enemies.