“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.” (Deuteronomy 30:15)
In the book of Genesis, we read: “Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
God created us in His image and likeness, that is, He made us just like Himself and one of the ways we resemble God is that we are capable of making choices in life. God did not create us as programmed robots, He gave us freewill and by so doing, made us responsible creatures. Since we are always free to choose, we can either be rewarded for making the right choices or punished for making the wrong choices.
This is the point Moses drums in our first reading today. God has set before us, life and death, good and evil. Having created us without our permission, God will not save us without our full cooperation. God loves us but He would never force His way on us. The father of the Prodigal Son loved his son but waited for him to return. He didn’t send an army into that foreign land to fetch his son.
You may love someone but you cannot force that person to love you. Even if you succeed in forcing the person’s love, it would be a mere pretence. The moment things become rough, such a person will leave you; they cannot sacrifice anything for you.
Most of us Christians today only pretend that we love God. We worship God just for the benefits we gain from God. We are like one who marries a person because he/she is rich. When the money is no more, they leave! If you truly love someone, you would sacrifice everything for that person. No wonder, in today’s Gospel passage, we hear Jesus saying to us, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Jesus used with the word “If” to show us that it is entirely up to us to choose. Jesus wants us to love Him freely; to be willing to make sacrifices for Him without counting the cost. If our love for Jesus is predicated on benefits, we would never deny ourselves or accept any cross in His name. We would deny Him at the slightest instance.
The choice is yours to make whether to follow Jesus along the narrow path that leads to eternal life to pretend to be following Jesus along the broad-way that leads to death and destruction. (Cf. Matthew 7:13-14). Choose Wisely!
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you will not force me to love you, save me from wrong choices. Amen.
Bible Study: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 1, and Luke 9:22-25).