Our friend and retired pastor, Pastor Marla Amborn, will be leading worship and preaching for me on Sunday, March 12. She will be addressing the Lenten question, "Just wondering, Jesus: Why do you allow free will?"
To get you thinking about the idea of free will, let me provide you with one bad statement and three good questions.
The bad statement is this; in fact, it is the only bad prayer that I’ve ever heard of, and this is the prayer: “Forgive me, God, for what I’m about to do.” Knowing it’s wrong and and asking God in advance to rescue you is a horrible prayer and it cheapens God's grace.
The three good questions are these; and might come in handy when presented with a difficult choice.
The first question is “Is this thing I am about to do good for me?” We know the things that are good for us and the things that are bad for us. I’m not talking about having a second piece of pie; I’m talking about a decision that is immoral or illegal or detrimental to our lives or the lives of others. We know right from wrong, we just need the courage to follow through.
The second question is this: “Will this thing I am about to do honor God?” I imagine how much God hurt when Eve ate the forbidden fruit. I imagine how much God grieves when we follow through with things that we know are against his will?
And the third question: “Will I regret my actions tomorrow?” A generation ago a Lutheran Pastor and alcoholic, Phil Hansen, wrote a book entitled “Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired” in which he weaves his story with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which he understood, to be a story of alcoholism. Throughout the book he described his decision to change his life so that he might feel better about himself. We might consider the same deliberation in our day-to-day choices.
The Lenten season is not a season of legalism; it is not a time to beat ourselves with rules and regulations and the failures of our lives. However, it is the season of introspection and repentance; an opportune time to consider God’s amazing grace, and how our living might be the evidence of our gratitude for that grace.
In these remaining days of Lent, may we refuse to our free will go unchallenged. And may that lead to good choices, joyful living, and deeper faith in the Savior.
See you in Church! (and bring a friend!)