Friday, 3 June 2016

Free will, God's cosmic river and restorative justice (Father James)

Father James is a character from the novel  2077: Knights of Peace. The following reflections and ideas are not included in the novel.  Book Q&A.

Image result for pen and paperWe have freedom as individuals to choose between the way of the world and the way of Christ. This will determine our eternal destiny as individuals but it will also affect God’s plan for humanity, or rather the form of the plan, since the endpoint – a New Heaven and a New Earth – remains unaltered in God’s mind, because in that realm God’s love will be fully expressed.

I know this as a matter of faith after my epiphany; but when visiting Sister Agatha of Grasmere to meet a new intake of Knights for Enlightenment I voiced my puzzlement at how this unalterable goal could be reconciled with our free will. She said it was helpful to picture the flow of history at all levels from the parochial to the cosmic, from the individual to the nation to the human race en masse, as a river heading for the ocean. Diverse patterns and disturbances within the river of life’s events, all resulting from free decisions to do or not to do God’s will,  can then be pictured as swirls, eddies, rapids and  floating debris , moving sometimes with,  sometimes across and sometimes against the current.  These disturbances to the flow are the causes of suffering  – war, disease, accidents, natural disasters, economic or social collapse. In the end the heavenly goal is reached. How we react, endure or overcome our suffering determines the place in the heavenly realm that Jesus Christ is preparing for us.

Nevertheless, people and groups of people do have to suffer in their lives. God only rescues us when the course of events allows this and rescuing us does not totally throw the river off course and never able to reach the end point. Do we encounter pain and tragedy because of our own sin? Sometimes, but often it is because of someone else’s, even when the sinner is geographically far away or no longer alive.  Not as  a deliberate punishment by the Lord but because that is the way His reality works.  It is why sin, which starts as a thought, is forbidden by our loving creator. But Christ’s restorative justice rescues both the sinner and the sinned against, either in this life or in the eternal realm of limitless love. 
Perhaps that is the meaning of the parable of the Prodigal Son. 

This restorative justice is open to all who empty themselves of pride so that they can receive God’s love. If someone damages you because of their greed or malice there is no need to seek retribution or ask God to punish them. They will either at some point open themselves to  redemption (inner change) and receive God’s love, or they will reject it before physical death and so sentence themselves to eternity in the company of other unrepentant sinners, which is hell, in a sense by definition. Either way, if you submit to Christ you also will be immersed in God’s love. 

So do not grieve at the sinner’s reward as did the elder brother of the prodigal son when his father rejoiced as the son returned, in humility, to his father after a life of sin. Your reward will also be great, perhaps greater if it is scaled according to our earthly righteousness; but in any case rejoice with God in the sinner's repentance. 

Click here for The accumulated reflections of Father James 

John sears
author of 
2077: Knights of Peace.