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Jesus is the greatest of all freedom fighters. He told us that knowing the truth will make us free, and so it does. God is truth, so knowing God as our Dad brings us into God’s kingdom on Earth and makes us free from the attacks of our spiritual enemies. This is the true freedom that God promised Israel through the Old Testament prophets. This is true safety and security, not the fake one promoted by the Homeland Security organizations of the world. As long as we keep wanting and choosing what God wants for us (knowing that God wants only the best), then we are secure in our safety and freedom.
But at the same time God loves and encourages free thought. In fact, he loves the notion of free thought so much that he embedded it in the concept of free will. We are free to think our way into choosing what God knows is best for us, and we are equally free to think our way into rejecting it.
We are as free to be illogical and wrong in our thought processes as we are free to be logical and correct.
Why would God do that? Why wouldn’t he just make us receptive only to correctness rather than allow us to doubt and make wrong choices based on those doubts?
God loves it when we use the gifts he’s given us, and the gifts he loves us most to use are free thought and free will. God doesn’t want automatons serving him; he doesn’t want forced obedience: he wants us to come to him because we want to come to him. He wants us to weigh the pros and cons (do a cost/benefit analysis, if you will) and then decide what we think is best. Of course, he’s always putting in his two cents’ worth; he never leaves us guessing as to which option is the right one. He wrote his laws on our hearts, and if we’re still not sure, he gave us scripture, his spirit, and Jesus.
I love Jesus! He’s such a cool guy. Nothing ever fazes him. That’s because, when he was in his Earthly body, he lived fully in God’s promise of freedom, protection and security. That doesn’t mean, however, that he automatically did God’s will in everything – no, not at all. He took advantage of his free thought and free will to try to negotiate better terms with God.
One of these famous “negotiations” played out in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus was crucified. God had earlier told Jesus what was going to happen to him, and certainly Jesus knew from scripture what was going to happen to him, but he didn’t like it. Not one bit. And why would he? He was a virile young man in the peak of health. He didn’t want to die, and certainly not the way that was laid out for him. If he had willingly embraced his humiliation and crucifixion and gone marching to his death with a smile on his face, he would have been insane, and Jesus most certainly was not insane. So, trying to wheedle maybe a few more days or weeks or even hours out of God, Jesus asks him if there’s some other way he can do what needs to be done. He asks him once, and God says “No.” He asks him again, and again God says “No.” He asks him a third time, and when God’s answer is still “No”, Jesus throws in the towel and says he’ll do it.
Does he do it with a smile on his face? Not at all. We know from scripture that he barely spoke a word from that moment onwards. With his God-given free thought, Jesus weighed the pros and cons of what was required of him to be the Messiah. He also used it to try to find some way around the worst of the requirements, but God wasn’t budging. Still, he let Jesus think it through. Still, he stood firm while Jesus tried to find a short-cut that would not involve crucifixion. When the combined witness of God, scripture and his own heart showed Jesus that the best way to do what had to be done was simply to do it, Jesus conceded. He wasn’t coerced; he wasn’t forced; he could have said “no” and gone down another path that might have ended with him marrying Mary Magdalene and bouncing 12 Junior Jesus’s on his knee, but he deduced, through logic and God’s witness, that choosing God’s way was the best way to achieve his goal of Messiahship, so he chose it. God then strengthened him, and less than 24 hours later, Jesus took his place forever at the right hand of God.
David had a similar clash of wills with God over David’s first-born with Bathsheba. Through the prophet Nathan, God informed David that the child would fall ill and die, but David reasoned that maybe God would change his mind if he fasted and prayed and mourned. So, he held vigil for seven days and nights, refusing to eat or drink or even talk to anyone. Despite David’s efforts, the child died, but instead of mourning his death, David got up, took a shower, grabbed a bite to eat, and then headed over to Bathsheba’s private suite to “comfort” her in the Biblical way. His servants are taken aback by what they saw was his odd behavior at the death of his son, but he explained that while his child was still alive, there was a chance that God would change his mind and let the child live. The child’s death signaled that God would not change his mind, so David conceded. It was as simple as that. And at David’s concession, God strengthened him, and Solomon was conceived that very night.
God not only allows us but encourages us to use our free thought and free will. He invites us to align our wills with his not by coercion but by logical choice. God wants only the best for us, but sometimes no pain means no gain. God protects us spiritually, but spiritual protection doesn’t mean that we won’t have to suffer pain while still in our Earthly bodies. We need to make up our mind to accept that now, because, as with Jesus and David, some form of pain is almost definitely going to be in the cards if we intend to “endure to the end”. Still, maybe God will give us some wiggle room; who knows? It never hurts to ask. But if you do ask, and he doesn’t budge, you can be sure that what awaits you on the other side of that temporary pain is a whole lot of gain beyond your wildest dreams.