As the only Ever-Existing One, God created the heavens and the earth (Col. 1:16). He created the spiritual or supernatural realm, and He created the physical or natural realm. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. He is the Supreme One, the ultimate Ruler over all that exists.
The creation story tells us that mankind was brought into this world to fulfill a specific purpose. This grand cosmic plan is the great theme of the Bible. It is called the mystery of His will. The mystery doesn’t pertain to God Himself, but to His plans and purposes for us. The mystery that was hidden in times past (the Old Testament) has now been made known to us through the New Covenant established by Jesus (Eph. 1:9).
Since God made us in His image and likeness, we also have a will. Having a will gives us the ability to choose, particularly to choose to love and to worship. Our will doesn’t take away from the fact that God is sovereign. It simply means that in His sovereign wisdom, God has chosen to give us a will so that we can choose to love Him.
Choices always have consequences. Because God is just, as well as loving, He must respect our choices. This means He cannot override the consequences of our choices. By “cannot,” I mean will not, because God will not break His own truths.
The power of choice was on visual display in the Garden of Eden. God set two special trees there: the Tree of Life (in God) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (apart from God). We all know where that led. Instead of choosing God’s best, Adam and Eve settled for good and evil, and a lesser garden existence.
Their choice to rebel and sin against God brought serious consequences to this world: death, decay, destruction, deception, pain, sickness, and suffering. Suffering comes from three places: (1) our own wrong choices; (2) the wrong choices of others that impact us; and (3) the accumulated effect of sin on this earth, seen in natural disasters and catastrophes.
This means that we can’t always have a choice in what happens to us. But we do always have a choice as to how we deal with what happens to us. We can react (re-act) in kind, getting angry and seeking revenge. Or we can respond (re-spond) according to the Spirit, with wisdom, a heavenly perspective, and the fruit of the Spirit.
Reacting in kind puts us in bondage to the lies and hatred of the world. This eventually leads to bitterness, destruction, and death. Reacting by the Spirit releases grace and sows seeds of truth. Of course, the individuals involved can choose to reject that grace and truth. But the seeds have been sown. We’ve done our part.
Jesus said that His followers are not of this world, even though we are still in it. Because we have the Spirit within us, we can choose to walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh (the natural ways of this fallen world). The first choice comes from the Tree of Life; the second choice comes from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
This is the reality of every choice that comes before us in these times. God longs that we choose Life.