This is a gift, one that makes us uniquely human:
But man is freer than all the animals, on account of his free-will, with which he is endowed above all other animals.Easter is a very old holy day, one of the oldest still celebrated. Things don't stick around that long if they don't speak to something deep in the soul. If they don't speak from an upwelling from some mysterious depth of great wisdom. The mystery, and the great strength of Christian doctrine is that it captures the human cycle of growth, middle age, and old age in a view of two gifts: Free Will and Grace.- St. Thomas Aquinas
As a child, we have no Free Will that anyone need respect. Children hold a special place in society and Law precisely because of this. In a sense, they represent mankind from the days before the Fall, innocence that calls for protection provided by more capable beings. But you can't stay a child forever. Free Will must develop, and the child must set sail, setting his or her own course as they will. Adults are exposed to risks that we would protect children from.
To never have the chance to risk is to never fully be human. The chance to take these chances is a gift that most don't much think about. They should.
No Noble Thing can be done without risk.But the other side of the coin is Grace. As the Child must go into the world to find his own place, so must the Man return from his journeys. We watch our children grow, and gain independence. Sometimes that independence causes friction, or worse. Sometimes the young adult becomes cut off from the old, because of careless words or foolish pride.- Michel de Montaigne
For the longest time, I was confused about the Crucifixion. Sure, I understood what happened, but I simply couldn't understand why it was needed. Now I think I know: it's a beacon, lighting the way back.
As we go about our days, exercising the gift of Free Will, we have a marker for our return. And we should remember that as we are given Grace, so must we also give it. That we are also beacons, marking the safe return for those loved ones who might even now be seeking safe harbor. That we should shine out of the darkness of hurt feelings and foolish pride, telling them that their safe harbor is here. With us.
[God’s love] is at God’s initiative and choice; it isn’t given out on the basis of my performance. God’s gospel love is not wages that I earn with a model life; it is a gift. It is a gift that I cannot earn; more than that, it is a gift that I do not even deserve. God loves weak, ungodly, sinful enemies. The gift is the opposite of what I deserve. God ought to kill me on the spot. Instead, He sent His Son to die in my place.- David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes
Instead, he sent his son as a beacon for us. As an inspiration for us.
Originally posted April 24, 2011.