Free Will ?

Free Will

I am 39 years old and I have very little grasp of the concepts of free will or free choice.  I can understand free will and free choice in a limited sense, for instance if I wake up at 7 am and I am still tired, I have the choice of getting out of bed or going back to sleep.  Or if I see someone in a car broken down on the side of the rode, I can choose to stop and help them or keep driving.  I can grasp free will and free choice when it comes to everyday options that we are given in the lives that we lead.  But did a paraplegic choose to get hit by a drunk driver?  Does a woman with breast cancer choose to cause her husband and children great sorrow? Now maybe these last two examples are just referring to things that happen to us that are outside of our control.  But if there are things about our lives that totally outside of our control, then does that not somewhat undermine the idea that we have some absolute free will or free choice?

For instance, if a man goes into a Best Buy to buy a television and the saleswoman tells him that she has two TV’s left both of which cost $1000 and so the man buys one of the $1000 television sets.  But what the man did not realize was that in the back of the store there were 100 $500 television sets which were of better quality than the $1000 television set which he bought.  Did the man have free choice to choose the best television set when he only had a partial amount of the information to make that choice?  What are the component parts of free will and free choice in the absolute sense of these words?  What has to be present for free will to be present and for free choice to be present.

From the Christian standpoint, the idea that free will is the major reason why most people will spend eternity in hell just seems to test the limits of logic more than any other concept I have ever heard.  Going back to the television example, it seems that in order for a true choice to be present an individual must be asked to choose between two courses of action which have known consequences and wherein the consequences are described in detail.  Where there is an asymmetry of information, it seems to be that true free will is curtailed by deception.  So if an evangelist walks up to two people and says to them, “Jesus is Lord.  If you believe in him you will go to heaven but if you reject him you will spend your eternity in hell.”  Where is the free choice in that scenario?  First of all, what evidence do either of the two people who are hearing the evangelis’ts words have that Jesus exists, let alone that he is Lord.  Similarly, how much information does either man have about the nature of heaven or the nature of hell or if these two places truly exist to choose decisively.  And without the evidence that Jesus is Lord and without a sense of the nature of hell and heaven and maybe even some idea what it would be like to dwell in them FOREVER, how can either of these two men operate in free will or free choice?  It seems that what they are really choosing between is not the scenario at hand, but maybe and rather between whether the scenario at hand is real or just a contrivance.  It seems to me that what most converts to Christ experience is not free will or free choice, but the emergence of an awareness that makes them believe that a choice really exists.  There is no choice, without an awareness or faith that the choice exists.  That is why it is faith and not choice that saves.  For once a person really knows the stakes that some Christians present as real are real, then the choice is easy, it is buying into the parameters of that decision set that most people find difficult.  For instance, I simply do not believe that our Loving God is going to put anyone in a place of torment forever besides maybe the devil.  So I do not believe in the description of the consequences for not choosing Jesus and so in that sense I cannot make an informed decision in that scenario, because I do not accept one of its parameters as true.  It seems to me what many evangelical Christians are talking about when they say that many people reject the gospel out of free will, is really a refusal to believe in the veracity of the choices being presented and so they really struggle with a faith problem, not a choice problem.  And beyond that even, is evil character a choice, a congenital characteristic, or both?  Absolute Free Will and Absolute Free Choice like most notions that try and generalize something beyond its intended limits are in my opinion fallacious fictions that do more to obscure what our lives are really like before a loving God than they do to justify erroneous concepts like eternal hell.

The Gospel

In these 17 years of preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have seen suffering that has tested the very limits of my consciousness.  And through these experiences, I am sure of just one thing.  We all will make it!!  It does not matter whether you believe in Jesus or not, although you will eventually believe in Jesus once you know who he really is.  It does not matter if you are a bad person or a good person.  It does not matter if you believe in the truth or in nonsense.  It does not matter if you have had an easy life or a hard life.  It does not matter how dark things become for you or how dark you make things for other people.  It does not matter if you have been exploited or if you have exploited others.  It does not matter if you have lost all hope.  It does not matter if you end your own life.  It does not matter if you believe in eternal damnation or that you believe the sky is red.  It does not matter if you are riddled with disease or if you are totally healthy.  There is a man who died for you, who has secured your destiny.

Yes, there are consequences for our actions and when you wrong others you will be held accountable to enough of an extent that you eventually repent of your wrongdoings and the attitude that led you to those wrongdoings.  But through all the mystery, fairness, and unfairness of this life, you have a guarantee from God that he gave you two thousand years ago when he sent his son to die for your welfare.  You have the guarantee that you will eventually make it.  You will make it!!! There is nothing that can keep you from this eventual blessing.  Yes, you may frustrate the process.  Yes, somebody else may make it seem like you will never be free or whole or happy.  But you will eventually make it.

You, no matter who you are and no matter where you are from, no matter what race you are, no matter what culture you claim as your own, no matter what your mom did, no matter what your dad did, no matter if you were given a silver spoon, no matter if you have experienced sufferings so unfair that you curse God and become a servant of satan.  YOU WILL MAKE IT!!! And the reason is simple.  It is not difficult to grasp.  The reason is that GOD LOVES YOU AND HE WILL MAKE SURE THAT YOU SPEND ETERNITY WITH HIM IN BLISS AND COMFORT.  You may endure many things before you get there, but you will make it to the promised land.

And this guarantee cannot be altered by anything that you do.  You have some free will.  You have some free choice.  But God loves you too much to leave your ultimate destiny up to you.  Someday you will know God.  Someday you will be free.  Someday you will understand the joys and sufferings of your life and you will be able to grasp the nature of your mistakes and the evil that you have done.  Someday you will celebrate your victories and the selfless acts of compassion that you rendered in this life, as angels celebrate right along with you.  This guarantee is what transforms what seems like a meaningless life of injustice and pain, into a learning experience of triumph.  This guarantee is what makes every bit of suffering that you have endured at the hands of people who did not understand worth it.  This guarantee is what ensures that the evil we see around us sometimes will soon be a distant memory.  I know that this guarantee sometimes seems too good to be true but it isn’t.  I know that this guarantee might seem unfair given all of the evil that some people do, but it isn’t.

And if you embrace Jesus as Lord and you embrace this guarantee while you are still living, before you pass on, then you will have the potential and opportunity to become something so powerful and so sublime that you can speak to tornados and cause them to cease.  And if you embrace Jesus as Lord and embrace this guarantee while you are still living and before you pass on, then you will have the potential and opportunity to be a force of love and goodness that truly brings people out of hell and into heaven, out of sickness and into health, out of anguish and into bliss, out of poverty and into abundance, and out of injustice and into equity.  But if you do not embrace Jesus and if you do not embrace this guarantee, then you will MAKE IT ANYWAY!!! Because that is the guarantee.  Because that is the Love of the one who created you.  And that is the reality that seems like a lie because too many lies abound.  Be blessed and when you get discouraged, just know that your bliss, your happiness, your wholeness, and your healing is a guarantee from God that can never be reversed.  And that is gospel truth!!!

Today

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Today there is a 7 year old boy who is sitting with his best friend Robert,

Today there is a 7 year old boy who is sitting with his best friend Robert and is feeling romantic love for the first time in his life.

Today there is a 7 year old boy who is feeling romantic love for his best friend Robert.

He is sweating, he is afraid, and he feels like a demon.

Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve?

What a convenient phrase, from a convenient text, fashioned for a convenient world.

Today there is a 7 year old boy who is sitting with his best friend Robert,

And he wishes he was convenient.  He wishes that he had been born so as to be convenient for everyone.

But somehow he knows that from here on out few things will be convenient for him.

That from here on out convenience will no longer be one of his comforters and that the oversimplified truths that he has been taught might soon become his tormentors.

Today there is a 7 year old boy who is sitting with his best friend Robert.

And watch out for this young man, because God has great things for him!!!

The Lord is A Man of War

“The Lord is a Man of War”—Exodus 15:3

Some time ago there lived a people, chosen by God to reveal her good pleasure.  And they fought against the terror within to live lives worthy of divine merit.

Some time ago, their lived a people, chosen by God, who fought the terror within to live lives of divine merit.

But they fell into bondage  to an ancient race to be the greatest that ever was and smell the aroma of the fear of one’s peers, equal to no one, not even God.

And a man named Moses rose up from within them and because of his training he was unafraid of the torments of the ancient race.  And Moses rose up and showed his people the power of God and his people were free.

Some time ago, there lived a people, brown like the bark on the tree of life, and they were chosen by God to reveal the beauty of her good pleasure.  And they nurtured the earth and danced in rhythms so sacred that the weather obeyed them.

But they fell into bondage to an ancient race to be the greatest that ever was and smell the aroma of the fear of one’s peers, equal to no one not even God.  And the ancient race plundered the brown people.  And the ancient race plundered their land and split them into fractured heartbeats of pain and self loathing.  And they were traded for gold and silver and abused for pleasure.

And in a distant land, a man named John Brown rose up in love and rage.  A man named John Brown rose up, quaking in the power of the Holy Spirit and shouted, “That is enough!!” And the whole of the earth began to question the ancient race that put so many into bondage.

Some time ago, a system rose up which was meant to heal the broken soul of the criminal mind, but now it has become a tool for the ancient race.  It has become a tool of exploitation, fear, and control.  And there is a woman who quakes like John Brown and she is at war.  A woman of no formal definition who quakes with the wisdom of Catholic Sages the love of Unitarians, and the fire of a Muslim Jihad.  She quakes and refuses to loose her hold of Fredrick Douglas’ plow of freedom for she is unafraid of progress or its consequences.  Her name is Jeannie Alexander and as she fights, fearless and glorified I am reminded that I am at War.

Machel Mills, Renee Bryant, two of the most fearless souls that I have ever met FEAR NOT for your fight is not in vain.  For as you fight, you fight along side a woman in the Philippians who struggles to get a log from a tree, struck down by a monsoon into a river so that her tribe can have enough money to succor the rotted gums of its members.

And as I receive this reckoning, I feel the urge to take my microphone and claim my rightful place alongside Elija and Elisha before me and proclaim:

“Brothers and sisters, you do not fight in vain for the Lord is a man of war and your fight is his fight and he will not rest, no he will not rest until all are free, even those deluded by the ancient race who deny others freedom, he will see them free too.  For the Lord is a man of war, who will not stop  fighting until all are filled to the brim with his holy fire for the Lord is a man of war who will not fighting until all are one, and all as one race, one people, one sound feel the comfort of the shining sun.  Have no fear brothers and sisters for the Lord is mighty and strong and he will not stop until all are free and the race is no more.  The Lord is a man of war, and he will not stop fighting until we all know the ancient kiss of freedom!”

Charismatic Christians?!!

Charismatic Christians?

I have just been watching Joyce Meyer on TBN, and the bottom line is that this woman is anointed!!! I mean she is one anointed vessel!!!! I have no idea what it is about Charismatic Christians that captivates me so much.  I mean most of the times that I turn on TBN on a whim, something in my soul just leaps from what is coming through the screen.  And it is hilarious, because I in reference to my moral, political, and theological commitments  am almost diametrically opposed to everything that they stand for.  Most charismatics claim that homosexuality, bisexuality, and lesbianism are shameful and reprehensible lifestyles, whereas I believe that God made homosexuals, bisexuals, and lesbians that way for a reason and that as they follow Christ they teach us of their unique disposition and what it is like to become holy and full of love with this disposition.  Most charismatics believe that abortion should be illegal, whereas I believe that while yes abortion is a sin, a grievous sin in fact, that the whole issue is much more complicated than absolute rules and laws at the societal level.  Most charismatics believe that pre-marital sex is problematic, whereas I do not believe that holiness is a one dimensional kind of thing and that there are many models of fidelity, commitment, responsibility, and intimacy that please God.  Most charismatics believe that eternal hell is a very real place where the unrepentant at death remain forever, whereas I vehemently disagree with this statement and believe that all souls were created for and by God and so all souls will go to God.  Most charismatics believe that the Bible is perfect, inerrant, and infallible and has one exact message for all of us, whereas I view the Bible more as an imperfect prism or window to the truth that is best understood by asking its writer the Holy Spirit for its meaning always realizing that the nature of our realm is always to understand in part and know in part only.  Many charismatics believe that yoga, meditation, other religions, and Muslims are indices of darkness against which we need to preach with love, whereas for me, Jesus used “Autobiography of a Yogi” a spiritual testimonial written by Yogananda, a Hindu, to revive my soul in a way that Christian traditions at least initially could not.

And yet, brothers and sisters, it is Charismatics who with the exception of really powerful yet often scarce prophets and sages from the world’s non-Christian religions maintain the ideas of the miraculous and God’s willingness to bring miracles into our lives.  And yet brothers and sisters, it is charismatics with their tongues, with their belief in love, with their willingness to take risks for the Lord that I believe personify the notion of being “the salt of the earth” at least as much as any other group, and perhaps more.  Brothers and sisters I feel more warmth sometimes from one faithful charismatic than I sometimes do in an entire day.  I mean these people are special.  That is all I can say about them.  I have no idea why the Lord has shown me a vision of life and reality that is very different in many dimensions than theirs, but by golly so what?!  They are still mighty.  They still reflect Jesus in many respects and in my opinion more than any group that I have ever encountered.  These people seem to be able to set me on fire like no other.   I will not let them brainwash me, as what the Lord has shown me, he has shown me, and I apologize to no one for the beliefs that Jesus has engrafted into me through the baptism of fire which he has given me, but bottom line I have a kinship with charismatics that is so special and so profound that I just need to sing their praises a little, and then maybe I will rebuke them for the foolishness of eternal damnation and the overzealousness of not seeing Jesus everywhere.