I have talked to a lot of couples planning to get married and been to as many weddings, and in every case, the couples were not forced to marry each other. They all freely chose their spouse (even with the influence of sly matchmakers or earnest prayer).
We hold our freedom to choose quite dearly. In America all of us live in a free society where individual freedom to choose, known as liberty, is constitutionally etched and forcefully defended. We can choose our career path; the State doesn’t. We choose our neighborhood; the Housing Authority doesn’t. We choose our friends and social circle; a caste system does not. We choose our eating and bathing places; segregationists no longer do. We choose our brand of laundry soap and breakfast cereal; a government-controlled market does not. We choose the size of our families; a communist regime does not.
As Christians, and especially as believers within the Reformed Protestant tradition, we believe in the existence of God’s foreknowledge or ‘determination’ of events and also in a human’s ‘free will’ to make choices. The debate between proponents of predestination and free will within the Christian church throughout history has been divisive and frustrating. Scripture declares that God calls the elect to faith, and Scripture also hears its writers constantly appeal to men’s and women’s choice to believe and follow the Lord. I believe that in God’s economy, both dynamics happen together. Somehow.
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:14-15a) Joshua was a decisive man of action who, at the end of the day, reduced faith to a person’s choice to serve the one true God or to choose from the array of other, false gods.
The array of false gods today is vast and virile. Some are named Buddha, Confucius, Brahman, The Sun, Kami; and some are named Seagram’s, Rolls Royce, Ph. D, Powerball, Sports, or Self. It seems as if we are faced constantly with a decision to ‘choose for ourselves this day whom we will serve’. And, sometimes, our allegiance oscillates between our contemporary gods and God, the true One.
In wedding terminology, we can leave the Lord standing at the altar while we go chasing after other gods. Rather, should we not choose to seek the Lord? Will you not choose to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and … in all your ways acknowledge him”?
Joshua finished off his challenge of choice, referenced above, by declaring: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” As we choose to serve God in Jesus Christ, may our increasing closeness to God diminish His competition’s allure to us. Let it be so for you and your house.