As I am writing this, LeBron James, currently the greatest basketball player in the world, has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat, and is a free agent.1 This means that LeBron may sign a contract with any NBA team he wishes. Perhaps this will be the team who can afford to pay him the most money, or perhaps the team who has the best chance to win a championship in 2014-2015.
LeBron has a close circle of friends who advise him,2 but the decision rests finally with LeBron; media and fans will judge him for the decision he makes. He must give attention to all offers he thinks worthwhile, so as to not make a rash decision and find later that he missed out on the best contract. The basketball community is waiting on baited breath for LeBron’s decision, which will create a ripple effect of trades and negotiations throughout the league.
Human beings, likewise, are free agents. We are not bound to follow one path of life or another. We may, by exercising our free choice, initiate events in the world. Some such choices have to do with the shaping of our character, helping or harming those around us, and our own immortal destiny. Consider what the Bible says on this subject of free choice: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
With this passage in view, it is clear that if man’s future is determined in such a way that man has no choice, is unable to willfully initiate a causal chain, and cannot repent or affect his immortal destiny, then the Bible is not true. But the Bible is true, as has been demonstrated repeatedly. Therefore, God has given us the ability to choose our destiny.
We are like LeBron in many ways. We, like LeBron, have authentic choices to make. We, like LeBron, hear the voices of those who would have us choose this way or that, but we will be held accountable for our own decisions (2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27). We, like LeBron, are ultimately responsible for knowing the “pros” and “cons” of each option, and how to follow through on an agreement to either offer. Here, then, are the two offers on the table: On the one hand is the devil’s offer, an earthly life that may be easy in some ways but very hard in others, followed by certain everlasting torment in hell after death (Proverbs 13:15; Matthew 25:41; 1 Peter 5:8). On the other hand, the Lord is offering the maximally rewarding earthly life and a joyous, painless fulfillment in heaven after death (Colossians 1:5). Is it not clear which covenant is best? Will we accept our responsibility for knowing and keeping our side of a righteous covenant with God?
Indeed, we are like LeBron in some ways, but the main difference is that the choice before us is much more serious than a choice about a basketball career. Our immortal souls are in the balance (Matthew 16:26).