“ON FREE WILL”
By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I do not want to do, I do.” – Romans 7:15
Someone once said, ‘life is messy.’ I get it. St. Paul did, too… despite the awkward sentence but profound thought he penned in a letter to his Christian friends in Rome. It was his way of acknowledging being stuck when it comes to many of the big decisions we make. If you have parents, children, a spouse, a job, a boyfriend or girlfriend or whatever, it doesn’t take much time to find out everyone’s free will gets compromised or confounded. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘it’s a free country! I can do whatever I want!’ Whatever? You sure?
We want to see the world through rose colored glasses. Then we get upset because we overlooked the thorn and were surprised by the pain at the time we got pricked. The thorn was always there. The pain was lying in wait. The thorn didn’t do anything but what it is supposed to do. And as we used to say in the old church confession… “I have sinned by my own fault, by my own grievous fault.” Sin is a big time missing of the target. Sin is brokenness inside, outside and all around us. Free will lives, can lead to sin and always has consequences.
It seems many have been exercising free will lately. It’s a cycle that seems endless… one thing leading to another… that voice whispering in our ears to ‘do something’… something that builds up or something that tears down… but at least …something…
Martin Luther said it this way… about doing something… and what it means to be a free person in the eyes of God…
“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
Somewhere over the last 500 years, many have forgotten what this means… that it is a free country and I can do whatever I want… yet when it’s all about ME and not about US… when I seek the center of attention versus making my neighbor life’s priority… my free will may bring more harm than goodness. That’s what happens when one man called to serve and protect leans onto the neck of another man already handcuffed leading to his death causing 1000’s to protest and eventually riot evolving into moments of looting and more death… St. Paul was right… all that we want to do, we do not do and all that we do not want to do, we do. And God bless the ones who arrived in the aftermath to clean up the mess.
So, if our free will leads to brokenness then our free will can lead us to a healing moment, too. A free will which relies on the power of God and a belief which holds ‘hope’ out in front for all to walk toward is critical to all! It’s terribly difficult to complete a 1000-piece puzzle without the puzzle’s image on the top of the box. Faith matters… providing us an image of the good… the good choices to be made and when good choices get made… everyone wins.
St. Augustine of Hippo remarked, “God who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” So, I’m going to take a knee this week and give thanks to God for free will. And if free will gives us choices, I’m going to pray your free will help you make good choices, too.
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches in Texas and Louisiana over the last four decades. Follow his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Your comments and/or questions are always welcomed to [email protected].