It’s Independence Day here in the United States of America—the day we celebrate our freedom. What is freedom?
Is an astronaut, floating untethered and alone in outer space, free?
Is a rich and powerful person free?
Is a person who creates their own reality free… or God… or insane?
Is a spoiled child, who gets whatever he or she wants, free… or in bondage?
Spoiled children seem to have become incapable of wanting what they get.
The United States’ Declaration of Independence states that all people have a “self-evident… unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Was Thomas Jefferson not aware that everyone dies?
An unalienable right to freedom is a strange assertion for any government to make—any government that has laws, that is.
Do we have an “unalienable right” to pursue happiness? Well, of course… unless you believe a government must grant that right, in which case you will be a slave to that government.
Some say, God has given us “free will.” What is free will?
In my mind, a truly free will would be a will entirely undetermined by anything other than itself—it would be an Uncaused Cause.
Scripture clearly indicates that God is the Uncaused Cause.
Have you ever heard someone say, “God would never violate your free will”?
Well, if we have free will, God sure seems to violate it.
Do you get whatever you want?
Perhaps it is good that I don’t get whatever I want, for I usually don’t know what I want, and much of the time, what I have wanted turns out to be bad and not good.
My daughter wanted a buffalo for the backyard… and I violated her will.
My son wanted to eat dirt in the backyard all alone… and I violated his will and made him come eat pizza with the family while watching TV.
When my children didn’t know what they wanted, or wanted something not good, I tried to help them know the Good that they might one day choose the Good in freedom.
It is my experience that people will sometimes use the term “free will” when they have given up on love: “Well, they did choose it, and God does give us free will, and he won’t violate our free will… so I’m not sorry for them.”
It is my experience that “Christians” will sometimes use the term to explain why some will be endlessly rewarded in Heaven and others endlessly tortured in Hell: “Well, they didn’t choose to accept Jesus before they died, so what’s God to do? He won’t violate our free will. God’s not free to violate free will.”
Maybe what we often call “free will” is really bad will. And with our bad will that we call “free will,” we will ourselves into a place without love. And you could call that place “hell.”
If your will were truly free, would you not will away all other wills that did not will what you willed, until you were all alone… weeping and gnashing your teeth in outer darkness?
If your will were truly free, you would be the Uncaused Cause… or insane and utterly alone.
People say, “If there were no free will, there would be no persons.”
But there is one type of person with no free will or very little free will—a type of person we don’t blame, for this type of person doesn’t have knowledge of good and evil, and yet we willingly die for this type of person. And that type of person is a little child or a baby.
The most childish children are those who think that they are already grown up and so should get whatever they want, and so render themselves incapable of wanting the one thing they truly want. And that is love.
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
That tells us several things:
#1 God’s free will is that you would will all things in freedom. Free will matters.
#2 You weren’t free when God set you free. So, his free will is stronger than yours.
#3 If you weren’t free when God set you free, then it is God’s free will that liberates you from your bad will that you thought was your free will.
Salvation is the violation of your bad will that you thought was your free will.
God in Christ Jesus, crucified on a tree in a garden, sets us free from:
#1 The Lie. The snake convinced the Adam that he had a right to freely take the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good—Good that we now know is the Life.
#2 The Law. The Law is knowledge of Good and evil on stone, in a book, or dead and hanging on a tree in a garden.
#3 The Flesh. The flesh is the “body of death” that we all grow by, consuming the Life. (We call this food.) But the problem with flesh is that our flesh only feels its own pleasure and own pain. If we felt our neighbor’s pleasure and pain, we would be one body.
#4 The “Elemental Spirits of This World” (Gal. 4:3). The United States of America is my favorite principality of this world, but it is still a principality of this world. They all promise to liberate you from legislation (law) with more legislation, but there is no legislation that can liberate you from legislation and your own bad will—that is, yourself.
“I have been crucified with Christ,” writes Paul in Galatians 2:20. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Jesus is the will of God. God is Free. And God is Love.
The biblical word for “free will” is Love.
God in Christ Jesus, crucified and risen from the dead, sets me free from the Lie, the Law, the Flesh, the “principalities and powers of this world,” and my deepest bondage—myself; He sets me free from bad will that I think is free will, which the Bible calls “sin.”
He sets me free from sin, and he sets me free to love as I have been loved.
Free will in me is God in me, in communion with me, for he has romanced me through his sacrifice for me into an ecstatic and willing surrender called Love.
Satan will tempt you to think that “free will” is demanding your rights, until you are floating utterly alone in outer darkness.
My favorite picture of free will is framed and on the dresser.
It is a picture of my father freely sacrificing his will to that of my three-year old daughter,
and my three-year old daughter freely sacrificing her will to that of my father.
It is a picture of both of them holding hands and dancing together to the same song.
God is not one enormous, self-centered, and lonely person.
God is three enormous, other-centered, and not-lonely persons who constantly give themselves away. God is the Dance of Love.
And he freely wills that you would dance with him in freedom.