Expressions of Faith
Free will opens up perception
By Russell S. Pang
Heart: Jesus expressed himself beautifully in the Sermon on the Mount. He taught us how to live, to prioritize our lives by seeking first the kingdom of God. What powerful words to live by.
Head: You really believe putting God first, will take care of our spiritual, emotional and material needs?
Heart: That's what Jesus said, and that's what I believe.
Head: Isn't that easier said than done? You plant seeds in the spiritual world to produce material goodies in the physical world?
Heart: That's what Jesus taught his disciples.
Head: Do you believe everything you're taught? Doesn't the term "foolish heart" apply to people who trust too easily?
Heart: Isn't trust what faith is all about?
Head: You mean believing without fully understanding?
Heart: How else could it be "faith" if you understood everything?
Head: You may have a point. But, again, I ask, does this make sense: God providing for all our needs housing, clothing, food, etc. just because we change our priorities and live to please him?
Heart: Don't you intellectuals ever give up? Proverbs tells us to "trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean onto our own understanding." If we commit our ways to him, "he will direct our paths."
Head: Talking with you is slowly increasing my faith. Thanks for helping me.
Heart: While my faith in Jesus is strong, I still don't fully understand the concepts of "turning the other cheek" and "going the second mile." Perhaps you can enlighten me?
Head: I believe Jesus is teaching us about action vs. reaction. If we react to everything that comes our way, we could easily lose control of situations. But if we see God's hand in all that comes our way, then exercise our free will, we can act, versus react.
Heart: Give me an example.
Head: By always reacting, one is like a puppet. Everyone you come into contact with has the potential to manipulate your emotions by pulling on your strings. Reacting relinquishes control to another.
Heart: I never considered that before.
Head: Remember Victor Frankl? He survived several concentration camps by having a positive attitude. He wrote: "The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
Heart: So attitude is important, huh?
Head: Attitude determines how we view life. I also recall this rhyme: "Two men looking through prison bars, one sees mud, the other sees stars."
Heart: So perception is everything.
Head: That's right. We can choose to look at the positives of life or the negatives.
Heart: That's the beauty of free will. I'm really glad we're having this discussion.
Russell Stephen Pang is a deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Makiki, and leader of its Divorce Care and Grief Share ministries.
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