Freewill is central to my theology and in my mind is the linchpin to answering difficult questions about sin, disease, and evil in the world. After Jesus, I think freewill is probably the greatest gift God bestowed on His creation. After all, freewill is what enables us to love. It enables us to choose. Most importantly, it enables us to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.
But here’s the irony for all disciples of Jesus: to accept Christ means the death of freewill in our lives. When we surrender ourselves to Christ, we surrender everything, including our freewill. Nothing is excluded. The very thing permitting us to accept Christ is what we must give up in exchange for His Lordship in our lives.
It’s more than a little ironic, but like all the greatest gifts (think of love, for example), it is better given than received. We accept Christ’s gift of freewill which allows us to choose Him as our Lord. We then return the gift by surrendering our freewill to Him. Disciples of Jesus understand our mission is to follow Christ regardless of our own preferences. Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind is no longer a choice (Luke 10:25-28). Loving our neighbor as ourselves is no longer a choice (Matthew 22:39-40). These are commands of Christ, and having surrendered our freewill in exchange for God’s will, these are things we simply now must do.
The death of freewill means we no longer have the option to not feed the hungry, provide clean water to the thirsty, give shelter to the homeless, care for the needs of the poor and sick, or to work on behalf of those in chains (Matthew 25:31-46). God’s mission is now our mission. God’s choices are now our choices and we have no choice in the matter! We have given up our freewill to permit God to make all our decisions.
Here’s the catch to all of this. While we pledge to surrender our freewill to God, He allows us an escape clause to take it back. It’s not what he desires. It’s not pleasing to Him, but it is permissible. We can choose to change our minds at any time. We can choose to resurrect our freewill and do things our way instead of His. It seems unfathomable we would presume we would know better than God, but how many times have I exercised my freewill after surrendering it to Christ? How many times have you?
The death of freewill should be the goal of every disciple of Jesus. When we have surrendered our will to Him, we have placed ourselves squarely in God’s will for us. It is what Paul spoke of when He said he was crucified with Christ and no longer lived (Galatians 2:19-20). He surrendered every decision and action to God. He considered the death of freewill to be a small price to pay in exchange for life as it was meant to be (Philippians 1:21).
How about you? Have you surrendered your freewill to God? Have you given up everything for the honor of knowing Him? This is not cheap grace. It is not a salvation which comes from raising your hand or signing a card. It’s real life. It’s intense. It’s difficult. But it is the life Christ calls us to live (Luke 9:57-62). Anything less is a counterfeit and unacceptable to Him. Have you surrendered everything, even your freewill, to Him? Freewill is an amazing gift. The death of freewill requires amazing surrender. Are you willing?