Something in our human makeup struggles against the idea of predestination.
Take our movies, for instance. In The Truman Show, Jim Carey plays Truman Burbank, a man who finds his life is pre-packaged, and then desperately tries to escape it. In The Matrix, Neo discovers that his reality as well as the rest of the world’s is scripted, controlled by the dictates of sophisticated computer code. And then The Adjustment Bureau chronicles one man’s struggle against fate when he must end the relationship with the woman he loves because it is not according to a preordained plan.
We are relentless defenders of free will. And to some extent, so is God.
His vision is not that of a robotic universe. You see, the biblical “coin” has a side other than the one where God rules as sole sovereign. The other side—tails—presents the aspect of human responsibility (and by implication, the idea of free will).
But with the freedom that we crave comes responsibility, not something we always like. Strangely enough, when Scripture commands us to do or not do certain things, we immediately discard free will and appeal to fatalistic remarks like, “I can’t help it,” “I was born this way,” “This is how God made me,” etc. We want freedom, but not responsibility, and still less, consequences.
I love the emphasis on my personal autonomy, but when called upon to make the hard decisions, I find myself flipping the coin over and subtly transferring responsibility to God.
He won’t accept the blame.
When Israel failed to obtain the righteousness of God, God didn’t say, “Oh well, my bad. After all, I made them vessels of wrath.” Instead, the reason given for their failure was “they did not pursue it by faith…they have stumbled…” (Rom. 9:32).
And in 10:4, “they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
God’s final analysis of His people’s failure is stated in Romans 10:21: “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
He expected them to use their free will to choose Him, and then expressed clear displeasure when they didn’t.
The Bible demonstrates human responsibility for a reason. It is not for the sake of inflating our egos, like, I believed in Jesus and I follow Him! I’m so responsible! Nor should it create anxiety, like, I could lose my salvation any minute, since I’m the one responsible!
Instead, it deals with our spiritual passivity, the lazy resignation that leaves the things of God on the shelf untouched and unloved in the name of “trusting Him.”
Take your place among those with an active faith, who ask God for clarity, or help, or evangelistic effectiveness, or wisdom in decision making, even though we already know that God is in control. Walk worthy of your calling, even though you’ve already been called. Seek Him although you’ve already found Him. Ask even though He already knows what you need.
God’s will. Your will.
It’s a movie worth living.