(June 9, 2021) Bonnie Spencer shares a most important challenge…
We make countless choices every day. We decide…
What to wear, what to eat, who to hang out with. What time to get up, unless we have a job that dictates that. Even then, we had the choice of taking that job, looking for a different one, or not working at all but instead backpacking around the country.
And so on… but the choice most often is ours.
Created to make choices
Although some countries severely limit freedoms, that is not how God created us to live. He is all about freedom and giving us the opportunity to make our own choices. Unlike the animals he created with instincts, he gave us the ability to think and decide for ourselves how to live our lives… even when it means making the wrong choices. That is clear from the beginning of history.
When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, he instructed them, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’(Genesis 2:16-17).
From the start God has laid out what is right and what is wrong, telling the consequences of making the wrong decisions. Adam and Eve made a bad choice in disobeying God, and humankind has experienced the consequence of death ever since. Death was never God’s plan for us, but he allows us to choose.
On the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land, God spoke to them through Moses to tell them what he expected of his people. He related all the behaviours that would bring them a good life and all those that would bring destruction. Then he said, ‘You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord’ (Leviticus 18:4-5).
God knew that in obeying him, his people would experience life rather than death. He wanted so much for them to choose his ways that he commanded them to do so – yet he didn’t force them.
Joshua took over when Moses died, and he led the Israelites into their Promised Land. Sometimes they made good choices and sometimes they didn’t, so before he died Joshua felt it necessary to challenge the people again to make the choice to serve God:
‘Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:14-15).
It is only because God loves us, he allows us to make our own choices… including bad ones. He wants us to trust him and return his affection, but we can’t be made to love someone. He wants us to follow the way of life he has given us in his word because he knows that is the only way to a truly good life. But forcing us to do that is not love. So he lovingly lets us choose.
God makes his own choices too… except when it comes to his character because –
- God is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4) and cannot contradict his character.
- God ‘does not lie’ (Titus 1:2).
- Because he is truth (John 14:6), it is impossible for him to lie.
- Because he is love (1 John 4:16), he can’t choose not to love.
- When we mess up, he still loves us because love is who and what he is.
In any other situation, though, God makes his own choices… good choices!
Jesus’ biggest choice
And when Jesus, God’s Son who became our Saviour, was born of flesh and lived on earth, he too made everyday choices just like we do: where to go, what to do, who to talk with, what to say.
He experienced firsthand all that we do, including every temptation. The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus, ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus could have made bad choices, but he never did.
It was through Jesus we would be delivered from death and darkness into the life God created us for. His coming to earth and suffering death were prophesied. He knew exactly why he was here.
Yet, he had a choice. Jesus didn’t have to follow through. In fact, he agonised over his decision. He knew anything was possible for his Father and pleaded three times for a change in plans. When he received the answer that there was no plan B, Jesus chose his Father’s will (Mark 14:32-42).
Adam and Eve had made a big mistake in the Garden of Eden, but Jesus’ courageous right choice in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36) presents each of us with the most important decision we’ll ever make.
Jesus wants more than anything to come in. He died to come in. But out of the abundance of his love, he leaves the choice to us.
To quote that well-known scripture, John 3:16-18: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’
Bonnie Spencer, retired from teaching, spends much of her time along with her ‘best earthly friend’ husband, CW, in various volunteer and ministry activities. Bonnie says of herself, ‘I’m not a theologian, but I do love the Lord; I’m not a Bible scholar, but I do love his word.’ Her monthly blogs such as above – https://bonniespencer.com– are realistic down-to-earth sharings of ‘some bits of my journey with the Lord, because he is just too good to keep to myself.’