God’s Love and Our Free Will

St. Ephrem the Syrian (4th C)  gives a wonderfully artistic metaphor to help us understand free will.  He says it would have been a whole lot easier for God if God had simply created us to obey Him – if God had created automatons or robots, rather than bestowing free will on humans.  God could have forced us to do His will, but God didn’t will that.  God created us to co-create with Him.  God gave us free will so that we might create beauty.  If God had forced us to do His will then we wouldn’t be in God’s image.  Instead of God “painting” our portraits as He determined, He gave us the gifts to beautifully create self-portraiture.  We get to choose the colors adorning our portraits, creating unique beauty which is the way to please God.

Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)
Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)

“For this is the Good One, who could have forced us

to please Him,

without any trouble to Himself; but instead He toiled

by every means

so that we might act pleasingly to Him of our free will,

that we might depict our beauty

with the colours that our own free will had gathered;

whereas, if He had adorned us, then we would have

resembled

a portrait that someone else had painted, adorning it

with his own colors.”

(Sebastian Brock, The Luminous Eye, p 61)

 

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