Fourth Sunday of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
The reading of today points to one of the most important principles in Christianity, God’s gift of the freedom of choice. Man is made free to choose to either do good or evil, worship God or something else. While God wishes for all of us to worship Him and obey his guidance as reflected in the Bible, He also allows us to make other choices that may not be in accordance with His will for us. This may be a hard concept for us to understand as our human nature leans toward dictatorship, believing that this may ensure that others will make the right choice when forced. However, because we are made in God’s image, God gave us free will in order for us to freely love Him and worship Him. If God forces us to love Him, we would not truly be made in His own image. God would not want to be a dictator even if that meant we obey Him and do His well. Forced obedience is servitude.
History teaches us that dictatorship while maybe desired by many rulers, it does not work and often ends up in disasters. The most recent examples of this are the recent revolutions within countries in the Middle East, known as the Arab spring where millions of people in the Middle East rose up to get rid of their dictators. Though the Arab leaders enjoyed a tremendous amount of power and control over their nations for many decades, their nations eventually revolted against them in the very first opportunity that opened before them. This resulted in the termination of a 42 year rule by the Libyan leader who was finally massacred by his own people, the end of a 30 year rule of Egyptian president who is currently in confinement awaiting the court’s final decision for his trial, also by his own people whom he ruled with an iron fist, the fleeing of the Tunisian president who ruled the country for more than 25 years.
The Bible clearly teaches that we cannot serve two masters namely God and sin. For sin then, becomes our master, in whatever form it might be. Romans 6:16 puts it this way,
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Joshua, who replaced Moses in leading God’s people of old, puts it this way
:“…Chose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24: 15).
No wonder that Joshua puts before his people such a decisive choice, for in that, he was only following the example of Moses whom he replaced. And Moses had put it this way:
” I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both you and your children may live”. (Due. 30: 19).
Moses in turn was following the Great Leader of all humanity, who chose to die, giving His life to save every one of us, as is indicated in the final verse below. Here how the Book of Hebrew puts it, concerning Moses:
” By faith Moses when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season; estimating the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Heb.11: 23- 26).
While God gave us free well, He truly desires that we choose to love and worship Him, knowing that it is in our best interest to do so. God made it possible for us to be saved and He offers this salvation to us free of charge but we must choose it in order to have it, as God would not force it upon us. John 3:14-16 says: Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. I exercise my free well to love God and obey Him knowing that this is what is best for me and my household.