Oh the mystery of the human person…

There is an irreducible mystery in the human person,” said Pastor Rich Nathan from Vineyard Columbus, in Westerville, OH, in his recent sermon entitled “How great kids come from bad homes.”  You can view the whole series here.

Years ago I heard Dr. James Dobson speak on this this very issue.  The eminent child psychologist said that one of the greatest mysteries he encounters is how some kids who grow up in great homes turn out to be real stinkers.  And on the other hand, some children who grow up in homes where, by any stretch of the imagination have no chance of making it, do in fact turn out to be some of the great people and citizens of our country.

Mystery?  Incredible mystery, says preacher Nathan…

Are there factors?  Of course.  Genetics, environment, socialization.  All those and many more, I’m sure.

And in fact, here is a good principle …

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (New International Version)

or the still popular rendition from the old King James Version …

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

No arguing with that proverb.  But does this always happen, asks Pastor Nathan in his sermon?  Of course not.  “There is no determinism,” he said. (Incidentally, in his sermon he goes after those parents who brag on their kids, incessantly chronicling their achievements, as if the parents had everything to do with it.)

That’s why we take each day as a gift, realizing that freedom — ah yes, the issue of human freedom in what children decide to do — is incredible and complex and mysterious and is indeed given to the human person from the Creator himself.   Try and get your head around that one.  I can choose to surrender to my Creator and His will or not.  In some mysterious (there’s that word mystery again) way our Creator respects his created beings.  He does not force their hand, making them choose him.  He loves us but he does not force us to love him back.

I prefer to merely say, “This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  And each day humbly say, “Lord, unless you build this house it will not be built.”

Anything else is sheer pride and nonsense!

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