free will…..friend or foe?

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I can’t tell you how many times the kids in our program

ask a question like,

‘if God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from that tree,

why did he put it there in the first place?’   

If we are honest, we’ve asked ourselves that very same question.  Oh, we might phrase it a bit differently, we might ask that age-old question, ‘why do bad things happen….’  or ‘why didn’t God stop that from happening….’, but the question is the same – does God set us up for failure?

Sometimes I like to dream about the world before the ‘fall’.  I think that I would like to live there, but in reality, how can I expect others  never to be selfish, unkind, hurtful and cruel when I can’t  do that – even for a day.  The ‘freedom’ that I have in the gift of free will allows me to choose….others first or myself first…..

I think about the way parents raise children.  There are two ways to get your children to obey you.  One is through fear, the other through love.  If I am the type of parent who demands that my children obey me or else,  I would need to use threats and punishments.  Certainly my children would obey me, because they would fear the consequences.  I would have little ‘robot’ children who are too scared to disobey, but would I have their love?

The other way is much riskier…the other way is through love.  I would love my children enough to allow them the choice to obey or not (stay or leave).  I would teach them, guide them,  and yes, explain the consequences of making bad choices, but ultimately, they would have the freedom to make the choice. Love would require that I step back, watch and wait.  And then, if they choose to obey it would be a choice based on love rather than fear.   You can see how risky this is!

Fear and love are both strong motivators.

 Perhaps the end action looks the same, but the path to that end is different.

God always chooses the path of love.

 God always takes the risk.

God sits back, watches and waits

We make the choices….sometimes good, sometimes bad

free will…..friend or foe?

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them…

Some 2012 years ago a Child was born into the world and nothing was the same.  This little Child, born in secret, changed the world forever.  However you ‘define’ Him, no one can deny the impact that He had and continues to have.  Love has that effect, love transforms, love changes, nothing is ever the same after you have been loved.  So, of course everything changed when LOVE entered our world.

If only we could realize the power that we have.  Our gift of free will allows us to make a choice.  We can choose to walk towards that LOVE, or we can walk away into the darkness.  We make the choice.

The horrendous events in Sandy Hook are too painful for us to process.  I pray for those who do not embrace faith, because it is only in faith can we begin to feel any sort of peace or solace.  We remember the children, just as we remember the CHILD.

Let these little children lead us this Christmas…..may they bring us back to the TRUTH of Christmas…..may they bring us back to another CHILD born long ago on a dark night.  Of all the gifts you receive this Christmas, cherish the gift of your free will and choose LOVE.
Playing Child Church Bulletin Cover

Did God Set Us Up?

I just love the questions that kids ask.  When they don’t understand something, they let you know…and often, there questions are our questions, we’re just reticent to ask them.

One of my favorite all time questions was posed by a fourth grader.  He asked, “If God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat that fruit, why did he put that tree there?  Wasn’t God, sort of, setting them up???”

Great question—–and it took me a while to be able to answer it, because, well let’s face it, it would have been nice if that temptation weren’t there!  And it would be even nicer if temptations weren’t there in my life either!

But, this is how I replied…..

I asked him if he were a robot.  Of course, he chuckled and said no.  If he were a robot, he would have to obey eveything that I asked him to do.  If I told him to run around the room a hunderd times, he would do it.  If I asked him to jump up and down for 5 minutes, he would have to do it, and so on…..  He would not have the ability to make his own choices because he was programed to obey me.

And then I spoke of God’s love…a love that desires our love in return….a love that is so intense and strong that it is willing to take an enormous risk.  It is a FREE love in that it gives us the choice to love back or walk away.  It is not a controlling love, a love that forces us to love in return, it is not a ‘robot’ love. 

And so….we have a choice!  We know which choice God wants, but the choice is ours to make.  And that is why that tree had to be in the Garden.  If there were no choice, God’s love wouldn’t be free and complete. 

It is all gift, really, our free will…..

We are free….free to accept God’s love, or free to walk away, and perhaps the greatest gift of all is….we are always free to walk back into God’s loving and forgiving arms.

After much discussion back and forth….I think that fourth grader understood….and I did as well!