It’s an undisputed fact.
And adults then react (or overreact) to those poor choices.
One thing that I can remember seeing over and over growing up is that when two kids got into a fight of some kind, the adult in charge would often make them apologize to one another and then give each other a hug. As you can imagine, and have probably seen, this doesn’t generally work well.
The first obstacle is generally the perceived authenticity of the apology. “No, Johnny. Say it like you mean it.” The second is similar to the first, as the hug is genuinely quick, with the two barely touching, or on the other end of the spectrum, the two turn it into a mini-wrestling match to who can squeeze the hardest.
Neither of these outcomes is generally what the well-intentioned adult wants, but if done with just enough sincerity, it passes the sniff test and all goes back to normal.
Just a few days ago, someone asked me the question, “Why did God place the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place?” For him, it would have been better if human beings just didn’t have the option to sin in the first place. Then we’d all be with God for eternity, no one would be separated from God, and there would be no sin in the world. Pretty great, right?
The answer to the question, however, goes back to those fighting kids I talked about in the beginning. In order to actually love someone, one must make a choice to do so. There has to be a conscious act of the will to make the decision, “I love you.” That can’t happen when it is forced. Just like when Johnny is forced to apologize and hug his enemy, though he’s saying the right words and doing the right actions, his heart really isn’t in it. There’s not a choice to love at that point.
When God created humankind, he gave each of us a choice to love him and worship him in return. Yes, he could have created us to be like robots – or the stubborn child – who would simply reply that we loved him, but that would not have been true love, would it? True love requires choice.
So God provided us with the choice – will we follow him or not? Will we love him or not? Will we choose to put him first in our lives? Without that choice, our love for him is just as meaningless as the child’s forced apology and hug.
God has created us in his image, and has given us the choice whether to love him or not. This choice to love is only possible because he first loved us. Without God we would not know what true love looked like. And the ultimate example of love was Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.
Kids, next time you’re forced to give that fake apology or fake hug, take a minute and remember that God did not give you a fake apology or fake love – he showed his true love by sending his Son to die on the cross for you. It’s up to each of us to choose how to respond.