I believe in an open world, a world of possibilities and choices, a world of decisions and actions, a world of desire and will. The probability is that you do too for this is how we live.
Every day we interpret the world and make sense of our lives as if it is open, not closed, created, not determined.
This is why we struggle and work at things. It is why we get disappointed. It why we celebrate successes and why we seek to minimise failure.
We live as if the decisions we each make every single moment of the day, matter. Life is happening right now – and it’s open, changeable, fluid. It’s not predetermined.
Of course, we can trace back causation and influence on our actions and decisions to all kinds of things, and we know that we don’t have a choice about everything in life – where we live, the body we have, our sex, our parents, our siblings, the language we first spoke.
We are all people of our time.
And we also know that we are limited in numerous ways – by simply being human. Limited in our existence by unseen drives, by the parameters of ‘the way things are’ and by the ‘laws of nature’, like gravity for example.
But although we are a mix of things – some bits of us are fixed while others are fluid –we live every moment with the sense that, in all that really matters, our lives lie open before us.
“What shall we do today?” is our most common daily reflection. There is always a choice to be made.
So, I believe in an open world, of possibilities and choices.
And this is the story the scriptures tell from the first to the last page.
From the offset, from the garden onwards, it is clear that the creator, sovereign God works with us as free agents. Not totally free, but free to choose, in every moment, how to live, how to respond to the environment we have been placed in. How to relate to our creator and the rest of the creation.
And we are dignified with responsibility as if our choices matter.
This is reality that underlies the whole drama of scripture. Scripture is a story that unfolds, that twists and turns, that depends on human agency and decision making.
God has plans but people have choices. And God’s plans are regularly thwarted.
This freedom, it seems, is a problem. We are not hard-wired to love and love alone. Selfishness is in our genes, so it seems.
And so, we encounter a battle every moment of the day between self-giving or selfishness, love of others or love of self, making choices in every moment, choices that will impact the lives of those around us, impact the world, change history – one decision at a time.
The world God has made, we learn from scripture, has an open future. God has designed us for relationship, for partnership, for working together. It is our greatest gift but our greatest danger.
In whatever way we think about God’s sovereignty and power, it’s important to note that because he made the world open, God’s will and purpose is constrained by our choices, our willingness to work with him. He has to work at our speed. He has to adapt and change.
This is the nature of relationship. It is the nature of partnership.
I believe in a world of possibilities and choices. It’s what gives life meaning.
God is open to partnership and it’s a remarkable thing.
A few questions to ponder
What are the limits of our freedom?
What would it mean to the way things are if everything were predetermined?
What does it mean for God to create a world for relationship?
How can God let the story unfold while being faithful to his own character, his goodness, his promises and his faithfulness?