The Price and Cost of the Ultimate Freedom

The cost of freedom and free will

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!

Break Time

 DawnToDusk

This post originally appeared at: http://www.inspireafire.com/break-time
And yes, that moon photo is one I took recently on a drive through IA. Isn’t it amazing?

I was walking through the Wal-Mart parking lot when three individuals stepped out of their separate cars. They unknowingly fell into step with each other and headed toward the entrance. I watched in amazement as they reached out their left arms with the precision of synchronized swimmers. They moved like extensions of the same organism: first extending, then bending, then bringing their cell phones to their ears.

I don’t think any of them noticed the others. I wouldn’t have noticed them either, except for once I was not on my cell phone. I was not talking with a friend, checking messages, or otherwise engaged. I was simply walking my dog on a shortcut through the parking lot and toward our favorite park. As I went, I realized it had been a long time since I had simply walked and looked – I mean really looked – around me.

computers

All of this convenience, and yet…

There was a time when walking my dog was how I sorted through my day, just me and God and the occasional squirrel who rudely interrupted my ruminating by dashing a fluffy tail under my dog’s nose. There was a time I could say hello to the Wal*Mart greeter without him wondering if I was talking to him or the person on the other end of the line.The convenience of phones not tethered to walls means that I can squeeze in my verbal correspondence almost anyplace. With the advent of smart phones, I can even squeeze in my written correspondence while waiting in line or sitting on a park bench when I should, perhaps, be watching the sunset instead. All of this convenience allows me to connect with those whom I otherwise could never find the time to connect with. And yet…

Somewhere along the line my schedule got a little tighter. I joined this group, then that group, and worked late “just occasionally.” I volunteered for this, signed up for that, and was recruited into oh-but-you’d-be-so-good-at-this!

All of it was important. Most of it was fun. None of it could be dropped. Except of course, it could.

I’m not even sure how it happened, but it was gradual. I didn’t sign up for the next session. I stepped down for a term. I didn’t renew my membership. And suddenly I found myself walking freely across a parking lot, watching the ballet of the synchronized cell phone users and thinking: Sometimes freedom in Christ means giving Him the freedom to act in my life.

sunset road

Freedom means giving God room to act in our lives.

It’s a stunning thought, but I can hinder my own freedom by not giving God the necessary space to act in my life. When I have every minute of every day packed with activities, I am blocking God’s plans. Oh sure, God can and will use the activities I am part of, but I’m talking about that dawn to dusk treadmill that has me running so hard I might not even notice God is there. Heaven forbid He suggest I put my cell phone down and say hello to the cashier. I don’t have time for that!

It’s easier than I realized to become a slave to a schedule of my own creation. And there is more freedom than I ever imagined in letting it go… even for a short time.

It won’t be long before my little cushions of time get filled again. I’ll sign back up for this and return once more to that. But in the meantime, I am pierced by this probing question: How might God have used that time I filled with classes, sports teams, even church activities? While I am free to do as I choose, will I be even freer if I leave a little space for God to do as He chooses?

I’m taking a little break to find out.

MeOnBreak