The meaning of free will in defining destiny
This is an unpublished devotion that I wrote a few months ago. I would appreciate knowing what you think about it.
There is a set of jokes that starts off with “I have some good news and some bad news”. Most of these jokes involve decisions about life where one part is good and the other is just the opposite; of course, the catch is that neither part is really that great.
To some extent, the idea of free will is one of those good news/bad news ideas. The good news is that you have the opportunity to determine the outcome of your life. The bad news is that you have the opportunity to determine the outcome of your life. And that is the rub.
It is, as some might believe, entirely possible that the outcome of our life has already been decided and we have no say in how our life is going to play out. Things were determined the day and time we were born and there is nothing we can do about it.
In a way that is a good thing. Because it means that we can do whatever we want and, in the end, not be held accountable for those actions. A predetermined and inflexible outcome also means that there is no purpose or no meaning to our lives. We are doing something because that is what we are supposed to be doing, not something we would like to do or might be interested in doing.
It also means that if the outcome places us in some variant of Sheol, then our lives are doomed and all that we do is for naught. For me, personally, it negates the presence of Christ in my life; if Christ died for me, even when I was not yet on this planet, then there means that there is hope. And with hope comes a possibility, a possibility that the outcome of our lives on this planet are determined, not by the stars or other influences, but what we do and how we act.
And that for me is the essence of free will, the ability to discern the purpose of one’s life and take the necessary steps and actions to fulfill that purpose. It means that one can change the direction and purpose of life; it also means that we can foster the work of others for the good of the people.
It is very interesting, in this day and time, to find that many people still hold to some sort of predetermined view of life. They see place and condition of birth as being the limits that define one’s person. And in a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy set the system in place so that the limits cannot be surpassed.
If, on the other hand, we say that all people have the potential to do, perhaps the impossible, then we must also work to ensure that the impossible can be achieved.
A complete understanding of the nature of free will includes understanding that not all individuals accept the idea of unlimited potential. But it also accepts the idea that society, as a whole, sets the parameters for meeting that potential.
Our destiny is determined by what we set it to be; but our destiny is also set by what others would have it to be as well. When Cassius told Brutus that the fault was in us and not in the stars, he was saying that it was we who created the destiny of the people on this planet and that we had the ability to change it.