People in the Church like to talk about God’s will for His creation. By “God’s will” I mean the specific plan that God has mapped out for the lives of His children. The Church emphasizes the importance of following that will in order to live in a way that is most pleasing to God.
At the same time, when we describe the beauty of surrendering to God, one of our selling points is the fact that God gives us free will. We can choose to live our lives for His glory, or not. He wants us to choose the former, but it is ultimately our decision. In the same way, if we choose the former, we will be freed from the chains of greed, jealousy, sex, etc. These are the chains of the world. The bonds of the world will be broken from our lives and we will no longer be slaves to them.
These two ideas, while comforting to a lot of Christians, seem to be contradictory.
Let me explain.
I hear and see a lot of people talk about how God told them to move across the country, or God told them to take this job, or God told them to date/marry this person, etc. It seems like many specific things about their lives are decided by God, not themselves. It seems as though they have no question in their minds that God made this decision for them and, therefore, must be obeyed.
I do believe that God has a will for each of our individual lives. I do. But I also believe that there are some things about our lives that can be left up to our personal desires.
Why would God promise us free will, then force us to follow a path that he sets out for us?
How do we know that a plan came from God, and not from our own minds?
Will God punish us if we get those two confused?
I think this clip from The Newsroom does a good job at explaining the way I feel about this:
Is it so hard to believe that God can use His children to further His kingdom no matter where we live or what job we have or who we are married to?
Yes. I said it. Maybe God does not care about who we marry.
A lot of you may be straying away by now. Let me pull you back in.
I am not saying that He doesn’t care about the type of person we end up with. I think there are specific desires that each of us have that need to be fulfilled through another person. I think God wants us to have a healthy, two-way relationship that creates meaning and happiness in both parties’ lives. What I am suggesting is that there may not be only one person out there that can create happiness and meaning in our lives. I do not necessarily believe that God has only one person in mind for each of us to end up with. I don’t know about you, but trying to find my “soul mate” would stress me out.
Maybe you agree with me. Maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you have never thought about this before. All I am saying is that we need to think about the language we use. If we are constantly talking about how people need to surrender their lives to Christ in order to truly be free, then we should stop talking about how we won’t make any life decisions without feeling inspired by God to make them. If we believe that God only opens one window for us to go through, then we should change our idea about what it means to be “free in Christ”. Because that does not sound like freedom to me.