Theologians have long debated how we humans can have true freedom of choice when our sovereign, omnipotent God is in control of everything and has the power to do anything. The principle is that God wants us to accept His unconditional love — the ultimate expression of which is the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins — and the only way that our love can be meaningful is if it is offered with a free will.
This principle may be best illustrated by the pleasure that parents enjoy when a child voluntarily accepts and reciprocates their love.
I have a memory that is still very vivid in my memory bank. I had been away on a business trip. My eldest son, who was normally not as demonstrative in his affection as his younger siblings, saw me coming up the street to our house. He outran his siblings and gave me the biggest hugs and kisses to welcome me home. That genuine show of love remains with me to this day.
One of the best examples in the Bible is from the story of the return of the prodigal son.
Luke 15:20b – But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (NIV)
That was obviously a happy reunion between father and son, and Jesus' parable shows that God values that type of voluntary response and show of love. As individuals, God has given us the ability to choose to accept His gift of love through the sacrifice of Jesus, or to reject it. There is always great rejoicing when someone accepts His gift.
Luke 15:8-10 – Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin." In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (NIV)
The famous painting by Holman Hunt (1827-1910) depicts Jesus knocking at a door without a handle on the outside. The clear message is that the person inside must freely choose to open the door and let Jesus in.
In His wisdom, God has taken the risk of giving each of us the ability to exercise free choice in whether we love Him or not. May we choose wisely.
Prayer: Dear God, help us always to choose to accept the unconditional love that You offer to us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Can A Little Child Like Me" (Lyrics)