You and I are here through no choice of our own. Perhaps you exist as the result of a design and decision on the part of your parents. Maybe you are the consequence of a moment of desire – an unexpected bonus or an unintended consequence of an impulse. Perhaps you were not welcomed with joy into an existence that now seems unpleasant at best. Possibly you were welcomed, cherished and lovingly nurtured as a child. Some people are surviving, some are despairing, some are thriving, some are going through the motions of living. But none of us chose our placement in this world – country, family, skin color, surroundings, financial status, or disposition. We make many decisions along the way, but one wonders how many of these stem from our culture, environment, inclination, or expediency. Focusing on the natural order of things can become depressing. For some the ‘Life is Good’ t-shirt fits perfectly, but for countless more there is uncertainty about the meaning of living. The aspirations and hopes of so many are crushed by the weight of circumstance, lack of opportunity, evil or indifference. So do I really have a choice about who I become? Am I a merely a product of chance and coincidence?
The prevailing mindset that we are merely accidents of nature, a part of the animal food chain, and insignificant as to the cosmos becomes a rather depressing world view suffocating the hope of personal significance and individual worth.
So much of human history seems to surround the struggle for freedom -the longing to be released from subjugation to another’s will. History books recount numerous battles for liberation from one people oppressing another. Man’s history seems to be one of constant war with intermittent peace. We want to control our own destiny. I think this reflects our uniqueness and dignity as humans. But since the fall of man we seem to have inherited an unquenchable lust for self-assertion. No wonder we have such problems in our families, communities, nations and world! Government and religion offer solutions through law and morality, but man’s need for domination – the insistence that ‘my’ perspective is superior and must be enforced – is perhaps controlled, but not eradicated. Law and morality keep us from destroying one another, but the primal problem persists. The world situation glaringly illustrates this.
Jesus describes it by saying we are “slaves to our sin (our self-will)”, the result being that our power to choose is limited. This One Who designed and enlivened us brings the instruction manual – He gives us the answer. Ironically, He prescribes that freedom to become one’s true self is achieved by giving up one’s rights to Another. Not to just anyone, but to our Creator. This one decision begins the process, if we follow it, that will enable us to make choices without encroaching the autonomy of others. As our hearts are reborn, our minds renewed, and our wills relinquished to the will of Another we break the yoke of slavery to our self. We can forgive instead of objectifying people with resentment and hatred, we can serve those who despise us, we can love those who dismiss us. Only as one sees the material world with kingdom eyes do things begin to make sense.
The Son of God incarnated Himself to free the enslaved race which He intended to be rulers of the earth. Instead sin became our master because of – yes – choice. We became locked into a bias towards self-assertion. Jesus journeyed to earth to regain for us the power to choose our true never-ending destiny lost to sin. He gives us a chance to really choose who we want to be instead of being ruled by our passions and predispositions. Our skin color or origin of birth now become more than an accident, but something purposeful, thus elevating our personhood. This requires new eyes, but more than that, a new heart. The resignation of our self-will to the will of Another allows us to become an entity to be reckoned with even after time is dissolved. Jesus did not come to start a religion, a philosophy, a system of theology, a system of morality – He came “to give His life a ransom for many”. He came to demonstrate in His own life as a man that what He calls us to do is safe. He Himself yielded His rights and submitted to the will of Another. All He does is call us to make the same choice.
We are held hostage to a hostile and powerful enemy, one who could not be overcome by natural means. Our self-effort to conquer our enslaving sin is like shooting a water pistol at a raging lion. It took the very Son of God Himself, Sovereign from the unseen realms, to plan and perform our release. This narrative transcends and perhaps inspires our best literary reflections on the basic theme of good versus evil. It is tempting to put the story of Jesus’ liberation of mankind on the shelf next to Star Wars as an interesting read. But this one is constraining. It extends an invitation and demands a response! An ordinary human being laying down his life for another is inspirational. But for the Son of God to veil His divinity to be able to communicate life and liberty to people shackled by sin is compelling! Jesus extends His offer to us. “Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” John 8:31-32 Message
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be,
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will he do with me?”