This week my kids made a book based on the Biblical book of Colossians. The focus was on how a follower of Christ would behave and relate to other people. The devoted a page to each set of instructions and then choose one page each day to give special concentration practicing that behavior. At the end, they will write a brief report on what it is like to live for Christ.
Well, my daughter jumped the gun a bit and wrote her report at the same time that she wrote the book. What is it like to live for Jesus? Her answer: It is hard. I question Christians even though I’m a Christian.
These are the moments that make life matter!! We dropped everything when I read that. She joined me on the couch—she is still small enough to curl her whole self up snugly under my arm. I asked what questions she has. Her questions were among the same with which I think all Christians grapple, and which stop unbelievers from accepting the free gift of salvation.
“First, I don’t understand why God allows us to do such horrible things to each other. Second, I still don’t understand how it is that God gives us choices, but he already knows what we are going to do. Is that really a free choice, then?”
I listened, recognizing her concerns as among the FAQs of Christianity with a mixture of relief and wonder at how often we come back to them. I’ve answered these before with both children, so I knew a new answer must be given to satisfy the doubt. I prayed and one word came to me.
“The answer may seem a little trite, but it is the same for both questions: love. God loves us so much he lets us walk away. God loves us so much that he lets us choose badly—and he loves us so completely that He really does know which choice we will make.” Without love, we would be nothing more than Legos, playthings moved by mighty hands through the stories of life. This way, we would be lacking any choice, responsibility, relationship and joy. Nothing would matter. Without love, God may have created us, but then would have left. We would run rampant and no one would bother to love us, watch us or care. But as it is, there is One Who was there at our conception and Who hasn’t left us since. Someone so present and attentive will know us pretty well—well enough to know exactly how we will choose without it diminishing that fact that we absolutely did choose.
Her follow-up question was plaintive. “If we are so messed up, and choose badly even when we know better, why does He even bother? Why are we here? Why doesn’t He just take us all off earth? I just don’t understand. Why? Why? My question is why.”
I wish you could have been there to see the ache in this girl as she struggled to understand her Creator and the meaning of life one random morning and a string of random mornings. It was amazing. My heart ached for her, and rejoiced that she cares enough to engage in ideas where she has no answers.
I told her that she may not like it, but my response would be the same as before: love. He lets us continue to screw up because He loves us. He gives us a gazillion chances, an uncountable number of choices, waiting for us to willingly and joyfully call Him Daddy. I reminded her how I don’t empty her room of all possessions even though she doesn’t keep it clean and how I buy her new things to replaced the ruin ones. (She nitpicked here a bit, feeling I am harsher than I think I am, but we came to an understanding of discipline and mercy.) God does the same. He allows us to experience consequences so that we learn how important our choices are. He also pours grace over us, sparing us dire results from foolish decisions. All because He loves us. We also talked about the Prodigal Son and the verses just before that tell about all heaven rejoicing when even just one person repents and returns to the Lord. We matter so much to Him.
Isn’t that a great day of school?