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New Year, Same Promise: Freedom

The Power of Choice

The greatest power we possess is the power to choose.  Instead of acting purely on instinct we can pick our path.  Instead of being subject to the whims of others we can chart our own course through life.  The only person who can get in the way of our ability to choose is us.  Only if we abdicate our choice do we lose this precious gift.  With this gift we can create a world or destroy a world.  With this gift we can build an expansive community, or we can bunker our self away from the world.  It is completely up to us.  This power, however, doesn’t exist apart from the world.  With this extraordinary, world creating power, comes great responsibility.  Ultimately, we are all held accountable for how we use our power to choose.

A Supreme Complication

This idea seems pretty straightforward.  The one complicating factor is that our choice doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Our experiences in life often condition our choices.  We know all too well how our adverse life experiences can complicate our ability to make the choices that build, restore and share.  For instance, people who suffer from abuse will often find it difficult to trust others.  In other circumstances, people who have had near drowning experiences will choose to avoid deep water.  In addition to these negative experiences, lessons we learn from people we trust can also have a negative impact on our ability to choose.  The most obvious way that this is demonstrated is in the reality of how we learn to hate.  We are not born to hate; it is a learned behavior.  In times like these, we may believe that we are exercising choice, but it is anything but a free choice.

Choice Restored

In the middle of this complex human process the reality of God’s grace is revealed.  The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus restore to us the ability to transcend what we learn and what we experience.  As Jesus lived and exemplified a fully human life, going beyond all the religious, cultural and political limitations that might have gotten in the way, he shows us the nature of choosing between life and death, faith and separation & community and isolation.  The fullness of life that is woven into Jesus’ life allows us to see God, our self and our world with the clarity that empowers us to choose.  This power is exemplified in the nature of the second of our Baptismal vows:  Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?  Join us on Sunday as we conclude the worship series, New Year, Same Promise with a celebration of the freedom God gives us to choose life.