Tuesday, January 6, 2009

free will and grace

Wrote this down earlier in the day as a reflection to some readings, kind of free flowing thoughts, and decided to share it here...

Readings today regarding the Prodigal Son and God's grace from Gospel of Luke.  I've always liked this story, seeing the Father as God, and the sons as varying versions of us, either being the troublemaker or the individual fighting jealousy when grace and love is given to those who we don't believe deserve it.

I particularly take notice that the father ran and hugged and kissed his son before the son even had the chance to tell his father his repentance.  Grace, that which we do not deserve.  An amazing concept, and I like reading the story this way, with the father's grace and love coming before his son apologizes.  I would think that God's grace would extend to all people, for all time, and would conquer death and not be limited by such an occurrence, and would ultimately "defeat" all human sinfulness/stubbornness to reject God's grace.  We can only reject God's grace for so long, as we are finite, whereas God's grace would have to be infinite.  To say otherwise treads a line where our power to reject such grace forever means that the power to reject is more powerful than the power of God's grace.

How much emphasis on the fact that the father, presumably, didn't know the son was going to ask forgiveness when he ran out...maybe he assumed as much, but didn't know for sure that his son was apologetic.  He was giving grace and love without knowledge of the recipient's remorse.  Makes me think again on how these gifts are truly independent of our actions, yet we tend to subconsciously make salvation dependent on our actions - be it how we live, who we worship, where we worship, what we read and call holy, what we call ourselves.  All human choices that would supposedly affect our ultimate fate and trump gifts of love and grace.

In the back of my head, I hear "free will, free will" ringing out.  I accept free will on various levels, but is our free will more powerful than God's grace? Is our free will diminished in any way if our ultimate fate is determined, not by our actions, but the endless nature of God's grace?  I don't like the idea of diminishing free will, but I have trouble accepting a promise that seems to limit the reach of grace, putting something human as more powerful than God.  It just doesn't seem to completely add up.