Unless you’re an accountant, you’ve probably never thought about the difference between price and cost.
I didn’t until today.
But while we may use the words interchangeably, there is a notable difference. Cost is what it takes to produce something; price is what someone pays for it.
This is straight forward when we’re talking about gadgets and gizmos. It becomes more interesting when we start talking about less tangible things.
The 4th of July is a celebration of independence for the United States. It’s a time when we reflect on all the costs that have gone into the freedoms we enjoy. It is also a time to reflect on what price we are willing to pay to maintain it. Freedom, as the saying goes, is not free.
It has a cost. And a price.
This is true for the freedom of political sovereignty, and it is true for the most foundational freedom we possess.
The cost of a country’s freedom is high. So is the cost of divine freedom: free will.
Free will, it seems to me, has messed up a lot of things. It has unleashed war, poverty, cruelty, and confusion. It has allowed evil to run rampant in our world. It has allowed people to make terrible decisions that led to terrible consequences on personal and global scales.
It seems like we have unwillingly paid an awful price for our free will.
Yet, there must be something more. When God created us, He could have created automatons that would always do his good, perfect and pleasing will. But He didn’t. He gave us free will.
Even now the question remains: why does God allow so much evil to run rampant? Why doesn’t He step in and stop it?
The first answer is: He did.
“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “But take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
God paid the price of sin so that we can enter a peaceful eternity with Him. He did stop the evil. But we don’t get to see the full manifestation until we get to heaven.
Perhaps that should be enough of an answer, but if you wrestle with questions like this as much as I do, then you might also wonder why we have to wait. Why doesn’t He step in and just stop the evil here and now?
The second answer I see is: free will.
In order for evil to be removed, God would have to prevent humans from acting on the evil impulses we have. The loss of free will is the price that would have to be paid for God to erase the suffering from this world. We might say, “Fine! It’s worth it. Do it!”
God says, “Not like that.”
This makes me look differently at free will. What could possibly be more important than world peace? What could possibly be more important than the elimination of cruelty and suffering and insert your list of world horrors here __________________.
The answer I hear is: free will.
God values free will so much that he will not remove it for a quick fix of the world’s woes. He knew the costs before creation began. He knew the price that he himself would pay on our behalf.
God gave us free will anyway.
God continues to give us free will today.
If God values free will that much, then I’m beginning to think that I should too. And I probably ought to learn more about it. What exactly is free will? How do we glimpse its value amidst the darkness of its price? And most importantly, how do we use it for good and not for evil?
I hope this post stirs up your desire to wrestle with these questions, too.
This post was first written for inspireafire.com. I hope you enjoyed this reprint!