Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Love is Free Will

You know what I think the greatest, hardest, and most confusing topic in the Bible is?  None other than free will.  Great because it allows love to survive and emanate through the choice that was given to us, hard because it allows for the choice to go against what we wanted, and confusing because it gets super theological with the omniscience quality of God and knowing our choice before hand (which I will not go into because I claim absolutely no scholarly ability to even breach that subject). 

If we had no choice to love, if we were forced to act in a certain way, then love would cease to exist.  Love, as with any choice, relies on the ability to choose the opposite, just as like if everything was red, then color ceases to exist, or if everything was light, then darkness ceases to exist.  The fact is that God created us with a choice, a choice between right or wrong, between good or evil, between loving Him back or turning away.  And yet, because God created us with the choice to love, he displayed the highest and most perfect form of love.  The type of love that would die for people even while they were yet turning away from Him.

Can you imagine that?  Imagine having a friend.  You have expectations that the friend will love you, that they will be loyal and trustworthy, that they will be gracious and forgiving through any experience.  It would be nice if that was just automatic...but then you wouldn't have a friend, you would have a robot.  Now let's say, for one reason or another, the friend decides to leave you.  Well, that sucks.   And then that "friend" starts doing everything you want them not to.  They mock you, they gossip about you, you name it, they do it.  Double Suck.  And then one day, a while down the road, you see your old friend walking in a store when all of a sudden he is faced with a gunmen, and you immediately react by running and protecting him and taking the bullet.  That almost never happens.  The act of sacrifice by itself we call heroic, the act of sacrifice for a "friend" who betrayed you like that is down right astounding, unbelievable.  Would you do it? Would you honestly do it? All though it is a very simplified example, that is what Jesus did.  And the greatest mystery is that He did it for everyone, even knowing many would continue to mock and turn away from Him. 

On a different, but similar note, break-ups can be hard.  Given that the break-up wasn't a truly mutual decision and that one person was hurt by the choice, a lot of hard decisions begin to happen.  I have been there.  Most of us have.  Initially, it is hard to leave the situation.  Everything inside of you wants to do everything possible to change their mind, to make them truly love you again.  After all, people always say, "If you want it, go get it".  But then you are left with a problem that I found well-stated from an unknown source,

"There is no convincing in love. If it doesn't come naturally from somebody, don't try to force that person because all you will end up with is failed expectations of a life that you thought you wanted."  

Common sense would have you believe that the greatest form of love you can show is to fight for the relationship and get it to work, to get them to love you back.  But it's not.  The root source of that choice is selfishness.  Choosing what you want and what would be better for you.  The greatest and hardest act of love to choose in that instance is to let them go, because in that moment, you are choosing what they need and want above what you need and want, you are giving them the choice to love you and respecting their choice not to, and that's exactly what love is.  Love is putting someones choice above your deepest desires and then continuing to love them through anything.  Through silence.  Through fights.  Through heartbreak.  Through rejection.  Through lies.  Through anything.  

That does not mean that you view it as "if it's meant to be, it will be", which implies you are waiting (cause after all, to you, it's meant to be) or you are placing a higher value on that relationship than any other.  That also does not mean that you continue to work behind the scenes with the expectation that they will love you back.  NO.  It means that you work every day to learn how to live out a 1 Corinthians 13 love to everyone that comes into your life, even those who have broken up with you or who hate you and not just the people you want to love you back.  

That is soooo hard.  It has probably been my biggest lesson in the last two years.  Over and over again, God keeps pointing to this subject through mentors, through His word, through sermons and podcasts, and even through the very people I wanted to love me.  Loving someone enough to put their choice to leave you above what you want is single-handedly the hardest choice ever.  And God did it for every. single. person. 

A picture from a hike in Canada that re-awed me on the God that created this