But, let us take this to the ultimate, theological conclusion. Let us say we are standing before God on Judgment Day. We have not been to church in years. We have been bad mouthing our pastor, other church members, etc. We believe we are justified in our anger. (And Satan is proud!)
So, God asks, “Who are you?” “Do I know you?” “Have I seen you before?” and we answer, “Yes, we know you Lord, remember, we are members of Your Church.” “Then, why have I not seen you?” God asks. Our response, “Well, it is so and so’s fault.” “So and so made me do it.” Do we actually believe God will say, “Oh, okay, that makes sense, after all, I never did create you to be responsible for yourself.”
It is amazing how narrow focused, self-centered, we have become in this world. Our focus is rarely where it should be and needs to be, on the goal, eternal life with Christ. How little thought we give to the fact that our life in this world is truly fast and fleeting. Instead, we begin life thinking we are invincible and live life on the edge. We then live life thinking we need to make the most of this life while we can. And, unfortunately, it is not until and only if we live long enough that we begin to think about the goal and it is usually at this time that we begin to realize how short our life has been and the regrets we have for the things we have done and said.
Jesus told the parable about the rich man for a reason. Remember the story, the rich man believed he needed to build bigger and better barns, stock up and enjoy life, eat, drink and be merry and tomorrow he would worry about his soul, but that very night his soul was required of him.
None of us knows when we will die, because our birth certificate does not have an expiration date on it, so we need to be always ready, especially always ready to give an answer, even to our God, the judge who may not recognize us, because we have not been the people He would have us to be.
So, perhaps we would do well to keep life in perspective, to keep our eyes on the goal, to forgive as we have been forgiven, to not take offense, to not throw tantrums, to be ready to stand before God and answer for ourselves taking responsibility for ourselves. No one can make us do anything, not even God (well, I guess He could if He wanted to, but that is not how He operates). When we act, when we react, we do so according to our own intentions and we are accountable, before God for our actions.
How to respond to, “So and so made me do it?” “Well, if I made you do this, then would you have done the opposite if I had told you?” “Then why did you not do the opposite, because that is what I would have told you!”
The good news is this, God is gracious, God is love, and He loves us so much. He has earned forgiveness for us and He has the power and the will to stir in us, to guide us, to help us to be the people He would have us to be, to act and react appropriately, taking responsibility for ourselves, and even when we fail, He is there always ready to forgive and help us again.