By Lenora Grimaud

God created us in his image and likeness and gave us a “free will”—the freedom to choose good or evil. Humans often interpret this freedom to mean that God will never force his will upon us; He will never violate our freedom and save us unless we choose to be saved. But, is this really true? Can we have “free will” if we are not truly free?

Only God is God; only God is divine. He created humans to be “fully human.” To be fully human is to be fully mature, and fully free. Our free will is in accordance with our human nature. As mature humans we are free to choose—free to will what is good in accordance with our human nature. If we are truly free, we will choose only “good.” We know our will is free when we choose the good. We were created “good” by God. Sin robs us of our freedom to be fully human. It robs us of our “free will.” We are free to choose evil, but it is not our true self—our free self—that is making the choice, so our will is not free.

We were created to want—to desire and choose—our greatest good, and the greatest good of the entire human family. We were created to make the greatest good of the entire human family, a priority over our own personal greater good, because our personal good is dependent on the greater good of the whole human family.

When we are fully human and fully free, there is no conflict between our will and God’s will, because God wills the perfect good—the greatest good—for the whole human family. Even so, we cannot compare our free will with God’s will because God, alone, is divine, and His will is divine—in accordance with His divine nature and perfect love.

Therefore, God is perfectly just, and does not violate our freedom if He imposes His will upon us, or if He infuses us with His grace without our consent. To illustrate this, I share the following story:

When my son was a little boy, he was sent to his room for “time out” because his conduct was obnoxious and unruly. While in his room, he wrote a note and threw it over by the door, where his sister was peeking in at him. He knew his sister would take the note to me. The note said: “I hate my mother! She never listens to me and she doesn’t understand me!” Of course, I took no offense to his note, nor could I take seriously his blasphemous statement: I hate my mother. I only saw his pain, and the confusion and frustration that results from immaturity. I waited a little while and then went in and sat down beside him. I said, “I’m listening now!” I held him, and he just cried his heart out. Then, I asked him if he wanted me to pray for him. He said, “Yes!” I prayed in the Spirit, and he cried and clung to me. After awhile, he raised his head, smiling, and said, “I feel like I just had a good shower after being all muddy.” He had been feeling frustrated because he had no control over his behavior.

I could have tried to reason with him by saying, “Yes, sometimes I don’t listen, and sometimes I don’t understand you, but I listen a lot more than you do, and I understand you a lot more than you understand me, but, I don’t say "I hate you!" That would have only increased his pain and alienation. If he was a teenager, or if he had more self-control, it might be more appropriate to try to reason with him.

Little children make choices all the time, but they are not mature choices, or free choices, because they lack the maturity to be fully informed in order to make good and wise choices. Parents are perfectly just in using their authority to impose their own choices upon their children—to impose their will on their children, for their own good.

Little children are usually very trusting and obedient to their parents. When they reach adolescence, however, they really become obnoxious and disobedient. They are in transition, and naturally schizophrenic. They are struggling to develop their own autonomy and independence—to loosen the cord from their mothers, which will soon have to be cut. They often think they have all the answers to life and know more than their parents. They are developing an “ego” and often are controlled by their ego. They can be very arrogant, presumptuous, and given over to pride and egotism. Again, the wise parent knows that "this too, shall pass." (Wait until they have children of their own!)

I believe that God reacts to humans in much the same way that loving and wise parents react to their children. I don’t think that I am “projecting this onto God;” rather, I think that this is what God has projected onto the human family—if we are truly free, and have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” I also believe that God does not passively stand back and watch us destroy ourselves through our corrupted wills. He will go to any means to save us, whether we want Him to or not, because He knows that we “know not, what we are doing.”

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