God lets us choose Him: “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” But that isn’t the beginning of the story – or the end of it.
God chooses us. He gives us the right to become children of God[i], and He made that choice before the foundation[ii] of the world. We become the children of God not by blood descent, not by the will of parents or anyone else – maybe not even by our own will – but by God’s choice.[iii]
I do not have a systematic theology. I am not a theologian, and my understanding of systematic theology is limited, but free will has always seemed self-evident to me. It also seems eminently biblical. God created us in his own image[iv], and a primary characteristic of God is agency. We see in the story of Adam and Eve that God gave us agency too, by giving them dominion over the animals of the earth and in the choice to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The freedom to choose is also a necessary condition of love. God is love[v], and he created us in His image to reflect Him, to glorify Him and to love Him.
The point of an image is to image. Images are erected to display the original. Point to the original. Glorify the original. God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God. Images of God. Seven billion statues of God. So that nobody would miss the point of creation. Nobody (unless they were stone blind) could miss the point of humanity, namely, God. Knowing, loving, showing God.[vi]
God created us to love him. Therefore, we must have agency/free will in order to be able to reflect back His love as He intended.
“[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject[i] itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so…. (Romans 8:7)
[C]reation was subjected[ii] to futility[iii], not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free ….” (Romans 8: 20-21)
Life and death, the universe and all the “stuff” that is, ever was and ever will be are “in God’s hands”. That is another way of saying that God created everything. God is timeless and immaterial and has created all that is material out of nothing, including us.
But the material world, the world as we know it, is passing away, even from the moment it was created!
And that is all part of God’s ultimate plan, though we, being only part of the material creation, have a hard time seeing it.
Jesus began the prayer that He taught us to pray by addressing God the Father who is in heaven (literally, the heavens (plural)[i], while asking just a few phrases later for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven[ii] (singular). (Matt. 6:10) Our English translations use “heaven” (singular) in both places, and the nuance of the Greek word (in the singular) is used is lost, literally, in the translation.[iii]
One thing we should note as we review the prayer Jesus taught us to pray is that there is no “magic” in the words. They are not intended as rote ritual. They are a guide for directing our hearts and aligning ourselves with God the Father. They are meant to help us understand our relationship with God, the Father, and to learn to know Him through prayer. Continue reading →
His “kingdom come” is an imperative cry for an emerging and growing reality in the life of the believer and in the world. The prayer, “They will be done”, is like it. Both phrases are couched in the Greek verb tense, aorist imperative[iii]) on top of it. This suggests an emphatic, insistent, ongoing desiring and abandonment to the will of God.
“YOUR will be done!” is how Jesus taught us to pray, with emphatic insistence. Continue reading →