One of the more painful lessons learned growing up is that there is a “cause and effect” to one’s actions. I found myself desperately wanting to be able to show my independence from anyone in authority. As I exercised it I discovered in horror that there was a link between my actions and those around me as well as myself. When I did something rash, people got hurt. When I spoke without thinking there were direct consequences. I knew first hand that “lazy people finally die of hunger because they won’t get up and go to work.” (Proverbs 21.25)
The challenged I faced is what to do with the lessons that I had learned.
Were the clich?s about “making your bed and lying in it”, “eating one’s own stew”, and “reaping what one has sown” the final answer? Did the fact that one is ultimately accountable resolve me of any responsibility to those who had “cooked their own goose”? Is God secretly representing that all spirituality is ultimately just a capitalist interpretation of religion.
If any of the questions were true then where is the hope? What about mercy and forgiveness? Is unconditional acceptance actually conditional?
Stating the link between an act or decision and a possible outcome is not a statement of predestination. Explaining that if one picks up a red-hot frying pan that one’s skin will burn does not say that anyone should pick one up or how those around him or her should respond if one does.
Life is full of the results of your decisions and mine. Often we look back and wonder at what might have been. History is what it is. Now what are we going to do in the present? True, people make their choice. It is also true that you and I have the opportunity to present an alternative! We can offer a future based on hope, not despair, mercy not judgment, and unconditional acceptance, not predetermined failure.
I wonder what could, would happen. Imagine people taking and giving away hope, mercy, and acceptance. It can start now.