Friday, August 17, 2007

Using Our Free Will

“Freewill is an important theme in Tolkien, particularly the voluntary commitment to the struggle against darkness and evil, sometimes against all odds.” ~ Colin Duriez, The J.R.R. Tolkien Handbook: A Concise Guide to His Life, Writings, and World of Middle-Earth

In the stories of Middle-earth: The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings all characters who have to face the choice that will determine what side they are own. Take for instance the wizards of Saruman and Gandalf. Both were Maiar in human form (like angels found in the Bible), and both were sent to Middle-earth to help resist the evil of Sauron. Saruman and Gandalf had the same background and mission.

For Saruman there came a time when he thought the best idea would be to join the side of the Enemy. His desire to have the One Ring, to have the power it represented, was more than Saruman could resist. The powerful wizard chose power over the responsibility that he had been given.

Gandalf on the other hand remained true to his call. Even when the Ring was within his grasp he resisted because he knew the great evil that it represented. Gandalf had a choice in the matter, but he chose to resist evil rather than side with it.

There comes a time on the journey to destroy the Ring that Sam wonders about turning back, but he realizes that in the best stories the heroes continue to move forward, against impossible odds, even though they had the chance to turn back. Frodo and Sam did not have to go all the way to Mount Doom, but they chose to complete their mission.

I realize that Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth is fiction, but this theme found in Tolkien’s writing is a very important theme for us to understand. Everyday we are faced with the choice to move forward with God or move back and side with the enemy. It is certainly a choice I have faced throughout my life. It is not just the choice to sin, but it is the choice whether or not to side with the Enemy and abandon God. It is the choice to use the talents God has given me for His purposes or to use them for my own gratification. It is the choice to keep my eyes on the big picture rather than just the moment I am living in right now. Yes, I have faced the choice to leave the Christian Faith and to live life on my own terms. God has given me a say in the matter.

Each and every one of us has been given a choice by God. It is not about saying we believe in Jesus and going to church. It is about pledging our allegiance to God and to His purposes. Are we going to use the time, talents, and money God has given to us for His work? Are we going to move forward, living a life of holiness, even if the rest of the world persecutes us for what we believe? Will we chose to follow Jesus even if it seems hopeless to us?

God has not dictated the course our lives. God has created us with talents, allowed us to develop certain skills, and brought us through experiences that can be used for expanding His kingdom, yet the choice on how to use these great gifts God leaves up to us. He has given us the ability to determine whether or not we will follow His Son Jesus or to join the opposition work of the Enemy. That is the choice we have to make, and it is the choice which determines our eternities.

1 comment:

David said...

Paul, I appreciate the point that you are making, but you are presenting a false dichotomy here. There are not simply two options, "for God" or "against God", but a pretty broad spectrum of possibilities.

I'm not a Christian, but I try to teach my children to be moral, help my neighbors out, participate in making my community a better place, donate to charitable organizations, and generally be as pleasant and cheerful to everyone I can. I just don't see how my life contributes to the forces of Satan in any way.

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