Like cumulus thunder clouds that constantly morph into new shapes, so the freedom to choose life as we desire it, tends to boil, split, and clash in stormy contrasts of opinion.
We all recognize clouds. We all value freedom. No two clouds are equal. No concept of freedom is free of personal diversity. We all want what we want, without constraint to some standard, for that appears to make freedom, less free.
Such was part of the latest chapter in Claiming Christ, that study book on what the Bible has to say about legitimate Christianity. In particular, we considered the difference between common ideas about free will and whether or not the same freedom of choice will exist in the Kingdom of God.
It seems, many people believe that personal choice can only be free when it exists unrestrained by outside expectations. The Pro Choice campaign elevates this idea with religious fervor, even though it requires the equal removal of expressions of choice by the other life (namely, the unborn child). The clouds of freedom swell and turn dark.
The Bible supports the idea of free will, but it places such freedom within boundaries. Freedom is free in what is right, but restricted when such freedom impinges upon others or tends toward selfish defiance of God. We are said to be free, so long as we don’t use that freedom to indulge in ungodly pursuits. The winds increase and the clouds of freedom separate in the stratosphere.
As a carryover from the tumultuous Protestant Revolution, free will has taken on some ominous labels reminiscent of twisters with green and gray luminescence in the atmosphere. Many Christians have sought shelter under the flying debris of foreboding teachings on how free choice in fallen humans is only able to choose between sin or evil. We are completely depraved and thus incapable of choosing what is right, therefore free will is either evil or, as Luther put it, it doesn’t even exist. The horizon blurs, the angled lines show heavy rains on the way, and the clouds grow black.
And yet Scripture clearly says that God has given man, even fallen man, the option to choose between life and death, good and evil. There does exist freedom to choose what is good and right. The rains dissipate, the sun burns through, and the clouds seem to drift like cotton balls on a lazy stream.
History, however, records the persistent decline of human choice toward greed, abuse, and all things selfish. Without God, man can see the good, he has the option to choose good, but alas, he is incapable of choosing right while he remains absent of rightness. Lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the clouds have returned.
The winds begin to blow from a new direction. The arrows and roosters mounted on roof-tops squeak and turn. The hairs on our skin register a change in the weather. We look up and scan the skies. The gospel of Jesus announces hope to those who freely choose to submit their freedom within the will of God. By an extraordinary act of grace, the Spirit of God enters the faithful believer and injects access to the righteousness of Christ. Good not only remains on the table, but it has now been passed to us, and we are invited to freely imbibe. Free will can now choose the good that it formerly was only able to see from a distance. The sky turns blue and the puffy clouds cast gentle umbrellas of shade in moving elegance.
Free will is free, but those who are willing to pay attention to the signs in the skies, will choose to exercise their freedoms within the guidance of God and for the good of all. Kids and lovers are seen laying on their backs in the grass, laughing at the possible shapes changing before their very eyes.
So it will be in the Kingdom. Sin will be removed, but choice will remain. As redeemed and glorified saints, Christians will retain the freedom to decide between good and godly. The options, the diversity, the individuality will be endless. The gray is gone, the white speckles the blue.
Freedom won’t be restricted, it will finally be set free. And now a rainbow shines with electric brilliance. The promise has come true.