by Michael E. Brooks
“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord. And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14,15 NKJV).
The head cook at Khulna Bible College is named George. Among his other duties, George cooks for Americans who are visiting KBC. One day after breakfast George asked me what I wanted for lunch later that day. I replied, “I don’t care, what do you have?” George responded, “No, what do you want?” “Really, what do you have?” “No, what do you want?” Finally I gave up and said, “Ok, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a vegetable.” To which George then said, “No, we have mutton curry, rice and beans.”
Sometimes choice is more illusory than real. We seem to have options, but upon closer examination we find that only one course of action is truly viable. Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, “I have found that most people do what they really want to do.” We often object to that observation saying, “I don’t want to work, or go to school, or go to the doctor, etc.” However the truth is that we want to do those things more than we want to face the consequences of doing the alternative. Maybe there is a choice, technically, but it is obvious which option should and usually will be taken.
In spiritual matters God has made us free moral agents. We have intelligence, the power of reasoning, and the ability to increase our database of knowledge. These attributes allow us to ponder the realities of life and the universe and decide what we believe to be true. We determine whether we will practice religion, and if so, to which god and faith we will commit. All humans are empowered to make these and other decisions for themselves.
A key element of freedom of choice is that various alternatives must be plausible. There is really not much choice for a healthy person between the options of eating or dying of starvation. Yes, it is possible that one could deliberately and knowingly starve himself, but this is not usually perceived as a rational decision. For true choice to exist, multiple attractive selections must be available.
A popular argument against faith in God is sometimes stated in this way, “If God is real, how can anyone not know it? How can he allow anyone to be in doubt? Why does he not reveal himself unmistakably so all would accept him?” This is a strong argument, but the answer is found within the concept of freedom of choice. If man is truly free, he must be free to disbelieve as well as to believe. This is explicitly stated in Scripture. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10). God allows us to be deceived. He gave Satan power on earth to lie to humans, and to present plausible, realistic arguments against faith in God.
Yet God did not allow Satan to deceive those who have a love for truth. Those who are willing to study all alternatives with an open mind will accept God as real and will commit to his service. It is those who are prejudiced against his true nature and who prefer to believe the lie rather than truth who are deceived.
We have a choice. We can accept God as real and his Son as our savior. Or we can choose to serve other gods, whether of religious or secular nature. It is up to us. But there are consequences of our choices. If we serve God, we will receive eternal salvation. If we serve other, false, gods, we will suffer everlasting damnation (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”
by Michael E. Brooks