December 27, 2014.
Choices. We all are given choices, and we make decisions on a daily basis. Some choices decide major things in our lives and steer us down a path that would never have happened had we not made one simple choice. Others have little to do with our future selves and satisfy our decision making in the moment. We make choices every day. You woke up? You had to choose whether or not you were going to get out of bed. You walked in the kitchen? After choosing that you would eat to satisfy your hunger, you had to make a choice of what to eat.
Some choices, such as eating and sleeping, are driven by our drives and desires. Other choices are made for us, seemingly giving us no option (though we always have a choice). Many things influence our choices and hardly any choice we make comes solely from our own will based on a purely objective and detached decision. We choose to eat because we are hungry. We choose to talk to someone because we care about them. We choose to behave in public because that is what is expected from the world around us. We all make choices, and some are based on more freedom than others. Regardless, they are still our choices.
Even in little things we are given choice. What shoes are you going to wear today? Are you going to have coffee this morning? Do you have time to relax before you start the day? Little choices can add up to make or break our perception of the day, but they don’t necessarily decide long term out comes of our life. But we still place so much emphasis on these choices. These choices that mean so little in the big picture, but mean so much in the hear and now. Choices affect our lives from the small scale to the large scale, yet most choices feel relatively similar in importance when we make them.
That is, of course, not including the big choices that might indeed feel much more important. We make a choice of whether or not we are going to get married. We make a choice of who we will marry. We decide where we want to go to school, get a job or live for a substantial portion of our lives. These are big choices that are given and that we make relatively often. Each has a tremendous impact on our lives and influences who we are and who we will become. And yet, we seem to be rather good at making choices, even when we are confused as what the right path is to take.
Choices. Our entire existence is based on our choices.
But it is not only our existence that is determined by our choices, but we also have choices to make when it comes to the realm of philosophy and religion. Once again, these choices are guided, but not ultimately determined, by outside influences and the environment around us. We make choices to decide define right and wrong for us. We decide how bad is bad and how good is good. We decide what makes a moral person and what defines a breach in this morality. We decide if we believe there is a higher power that sets the standard for this morality.
There is a whole field of philosophy dedicated to these choices we make- ethics. The field studies what people, societies and cultures have cumulatively decided for their morals and how we are to decide on our morals today. Ethics is filled with choices, and not all of them easy. Not all are agreed upon, nor is it likely that they will ever be. But yet, we still search for the truth- the ultimate answer, the choice that is right.
Why do we have choices? Are they merely a construct of our minds that is made so that we can interpret the world around us? Or do they actually have meaning? Does the animal kingdom have the complexity of choices we do? Do they understand the impact of their choices? Do they use this reasoning to make better choices?
Our reality, our perception, our choices are uniquely human. We get to decide what we believe and why we believe it. We get to choose how we act and what we worship and obey. One choice we do not get to make, however, is if we worship. We do not get to choose if we obey. For we all worship something. We all obey something.
This something could be money. It could be the pursuit of fame or knowledge. It could be us simply trying to satisfy all of our desires. We could worship deities, people or objects. We have the choice of who or what we worship, and that choice could change often. But the choice will always be made. And, as the song says, if you chose not to decide, you still have made a choice. And you will still worship something, even if it is yourself.
Why? Why are we given these choices? Why do we all worship something? It is as though the human race is programmed to worship, yet we are given a choice as to who or what that is. This is called free will. We have free will so that we can make our own decisions, and in giving us this power to make our own decisions, the One who gave us this power has grated us the ability to make the choice to worship him by our own choice. He has given us the ability to genuinely love. For there is no such thing as love without choice. You cannot be programmed to love something or someone, for in doing so, all choice is removed. You don’t love the person or thing, but are merely forced to serve. This is not love. This is why we have a choice.
And we all have an ultimate choice to make.
The thing is, choosing to believe in God or choosing not to believe in God in no way alters reality. It does not change whether or not He actually exists just because someone chooses not to believe in Him. That is one of the basic flaws our thought process. We perceive that if we don’t believe in something, then it doesn’t exist. No. Not believing in something simply makes us right or wrong. It does not alter reality.
But deep down, even when we don’t want to admit it, we know the reality. We know that there is a reason we are all given choice. We know that there is a desire that is placed within us that nothing on this earth can fully satisfy. We might numb that desire, or try to flood it with other pleasures and material things, but it will never be satisfied. And when we are on our death bed, we will wonder, what, what that ultimate satisfaction could be. Or at least, those who have not found it will.
You have a choice to make. You have a decision that is more important that any other decision you have ever made, or will ever make. This decision does not only affect your life here on earth, but the eternal fate of your soul. I am not crazy, and you know that I am not crazy. Because deep down, you know that you have to make this decision. And the choice is completely left up to you.
But God, being rich in mercy and grace, has revealed Himself to us. He has proclaimed the good news of salvation and He has made the choice open and available. For He has preserved His word, and He has made sure that the world has had the knowledge of the Christ. The one who came to offer Himself as a ransom for our sins, to redeem us, to set us as blameless before God.
See, since we are given this free will choice to decide on our morality, we all make the wrong choice. There is a moral law that rests inside each and every one of us, but we all for one reason or another break that law. We all see ourselves as “pretty good,” but never perfect. Because we have made mistakes. We have done bad things. And because we have broken this moral law, not one of us can be considered fully righteous, no not one.
But there was one, who fulfilled many, many prophecies of old exactly according to the details, who did live a perfect life. One who did not ever break this moral law. There was One who was righteous, One who did not deserve to die. Who did not deserve to be counted as anything less than Holy. And this One, the Messiah, came to die in our place. He also had a choice, just as we do. He had the choice to sin. Yet He didn’t. He had the choice to be called home to sit on the right hand of God. But He stayed for us. He had the choice not to care, but He chose to love us so. And with this decision, He went to the cross to die in our place, making the choice that we could not make. For we were dead in our sins, full of blame before the righteous God. But He bore our sins to the cross, so that we might stand blameless before the righteous throne.
Yet, this salvation is only offered, not automatically guaranteed. This is because we have to be given free will so that we have the capacity to love. We have to be given a choice, so that we can choose for ourselves whom we believe in. You might say, “Well that’s just a bunch of words, I can’t believe that.” That’s your choice. But I don’t think that’s the choice you will want to make in the long run.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The choice is yours. Jesus has already accomplished what He came here to do. He has already paid the price for our sins. He has already done the work. And now His grace, His mercy, is extended to you. You have the choice of whether or not to believe in Him. You are given the opportunity, though none of us deserve it, to enter into His kingdom and rest from your worries and fears. No, the Christian life is not easy, but in the end, it is more than worth it. You have the choice to gain the peace that passes understanding and the joy that is inexplicable. You are given the choice to believe.
Suggested Daily Reading: John 3, Acts 2, Romans 1, 3, 6.
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”