To understand the mentality of the Christian, I want to talk about how we view the word “choice.” From Genesis to Revelations, God talks about the importance of the concept of “choice.” In Eden, there was the Tree of Life AND the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could have eaten from the Tree of Life, you know? When presented with the fruit, Eve had a choice to eat or to not. The serpent did not force it down her throat, nor did God stand over her shoulder forcing her NOT to eat it. She had a choice. And the beautiful thing God did when they made the wrong choice, was to clothe them, and protect them. There were consequences, but you see his fatherly love even still.
Throughout scripture God presents this concept of “choice” and it has absolutely nothing to do with what we feel or what seems instinctive or natural or has nothing to do with what we “may have always thought about ourselves.” There is “Narrow is the way…Broad is the way…” There is “I present to you, life and death…” Every scripture that seeks to explain the theology of being a Christian, is based on this concept of CHOICE. In fact ALL of the Christian life is about denying self and choosing to do what the Lord requires, regardless of our feelings and natural leanings.
I know that many disagree with this, and the thought leans more towards, if you feel it, as long as it is not hurting someone else, then you should be free to do it. As long as it makes you happy, you should be free to do it. Or even as long as it does not harm you, you should be free to do it. But that is just not a Biblical concept at all. Ask the martyrs who were eaten by lions for the faith. All of the Christian life is about pain, self-denial, and suffering in the flesh. The Bible teaches a very different philosophy from the mainstream. Jesus, although the perfect GOD, prayed that he did NOT have to go to the cross, but in the end even though crying great drops of blood, he chose to take on the cross. When Pilate and others questioned him, it says that he chose NOT to argue back.
We are not Jesus, but he is still our example of how we all have a choice to daily choose to deny ourselves to follow God. I feel the story of the Rich Young Ruler is a perfect example of the fork in the road we all face: ” a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” It says that Jesus loved him, but the rich young ruler was not quite ready to lay everything down to follow him. Yet Jesus loved him. He presented him with a choice, allowed the young man to make that choice and loved him regardless.
To the Christian, we feel that God gave us a free will to choose how we want to live our lives, but we also believe that the Bible gives a very clear standard for how God would like us to live out our faith. Many times, what God wants, is directly opposed to what our instinct wants to do, so we equate choosing the Biblical standard as a DEATH. It feels like it, as our bodies and instincts cry out constantly to do otherwise. And I truly believe that God knows it is a journey, a very difficult journey, so he loves us and is patient with us through the journey, until we have our perfected and sinless bodies in glory. We are constantly, “Working out our faith with fear and trembling.”
May we love others the same way, giving them that space and respect to choose to live a life that makes them happy and allow God to turn their hearts in his own time and own way. None of this sounds attractive and I may even seem like a dark person, but the joy I have found in Christ cannot be explained, but this is my journey and my story. I went through A LOT to get here. As a Christian, God also commands me to allow others to go through their journey as well…in their own time and in their own way. Joshua says it perfectly when he presents the choice to the Children of Israel: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Share the truth God has revealed to you, live it out, but in the end you have to just do you and let others follow their own path…loving them regardless which path they choose.