About That Whole "Free Will" Thing...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

“Catholicism is not Master and Servant — it is Father asking children to rise to their best selves, to accept responsibility, to use their holy tools to create what can be… All is not ordained — from the tools we have been given, the incredible one-in-ten-billion-years tools each of us is given — we are asked to help create. We are asked to be Artists! What a gift! What a joy! What an astonishing and terrifying assignment!”
Brian Doyle, Grace Notes

Why did God give us free will? God, omnipotent entity and ruler of Heaven and Earth, could easily have designed this world and the people within it according to his very exact standards of perfection. Utopia could totally have been a thing if He’d wanted it to be.

So why didn’t He?

Most priests I’ve met and those I’ve discussed theology with have agreed it’s because God loves us. And they sort of just end it there, more or less. Like parents who won’t be able to control their children forever, 24/7, but trust they’ll live according to the guidance they’ve provided in those critical first years of life, God likely hopes that as we walk through life, we’ll adhere to the principles of love, compassion, and mercy cultivated by faith, without His constant hovering. He loves us enough to let us go, so to speak.

But it is so, so easy to consider the ever-unfolding tragedies in the world and think, “It would be so much easier if we were all just good all the time.” And yes. It would probably be easier. But it would also be relatively meaningless, because we would be reduced to little more than actors merely reciting scripted lines, unable to give our input and use our own sense of creativity to shape the scenes.

I think God gave us free will because He knows the enormous amount of goodness and light that can burst forth from the human soul instead. Always. Everywhere. In spite of the darkness, the evil, the fear. And God knows that such beauty of the human spirit is far more radiant and glorious when it comes of our own volition, when we don’t have to share it, when we aren’t told or commanded or blackmailed to give of our hearts, but choose to do so anyway.

God is not simply our Master, nor we, his sycophantic Servants. And all, indeed, as Brian Doyle points out above, “is not ordained.” God loves us too much for that. The love God has given us is the kind that invites us, dares us even, to pick up a paintbrush, a pen, an instrument, and create with Him. It is the kind of love that knows that our love is best expressed freely through our unique sets of gifts, our "incredible one-in-ten-billion-years tools," with a healthy helping of creativity and compassion on the side. It is the kind of love that understands that we love each in massively different ways, and it gives us permission to do so, in order that the world might brim with the fullness of human gifts, serving each other’s weaknesses, complementing one another’s strengths, building it up to the fullness of “what can be.” 

Photo Credit: A Train via Compfight cc

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