POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2010:
Choose to Be Unique
The power of choice separates humans from all other creatures
Me: "Yes, I'd like a White Chocolate Mocha. Hot. Non-fat milk and no whipped cream, please. With a light sprinkle of cinnamon. Tall will be fine today. No receipt necessary. Thanks."
Cool girl with bracelet tattoo: "I've got a tall, non-fat, no-whip, White Mocha with cinnamon for Eric ready at the bar."
There's nothing like ordering a chic drink with a little choosing power on the side. Everyday, you and I make hundreds if not thousands of decisions, some big and some smaller. I would argue that the precision with which we as people have the capacity to decide makes us stand out from every other creature on planet Earth. Unfortunately, our capacity to decide is something we too often take for granted.
How important is our ability to choose?
A few years ago, the London Zoo put on what they claimed to be the world's first "Human Zoo" exhibit. For a short time, visitors to the zoo were invited to stop by a rocky-terrain display in which a number of scantily clad adult human beings could be seen behaving like primates. The purpose of the display was to show that human beings are, in effect, equal to every other species that one might view in a natural, or in this case unnatural, habitat.
The zoo claims to have gained more first time visitors during the period of this display than at any other time, and more publicity, too. The extra attention gained by the display in and of itself is a major weakness of their argument that human beings are just like any other species.
But the ultimate contradiction seems to be found in the area of choice. After all, the "Human Zoo" exhibit was certainly the only zoo display where the subjects willfully chose to be there, right? Human beings are different than other primates and other species. That's what made the exhibit so intriguing, and yet so absurd at the same time.
Now, your typical existentialist would agree with me on this. In fact, he or she might argue that it is in fact the power to choose that makes human beings truly human and different than any other creature.
But being human goes far beyond the existentialist argument for choice and experience. It is not just the act of being a human that makes our species different. Our uniqueness is the direct result of a choice by our Creator, who chose human beings to be the species that most resembles Him. We are made in the Imago Dei, the "image of God."
So you could say it like this: God chose to give human beings the power to choose so that some of us might choose to follow Him; and in doing so, we might choose to make the choices that He would make. How's that for redundancy? And yet, I'm convinced it is true.
Think about it, though, from God's perspective. Of all that He created and all that has developed from His creation, human beings are the only creatures capable of choosing to follow Him. What could possibly make us more important to Him than that?
Choices make us human. Choices matter. And no publicity specialist from the London Zoo, or any other zoo for that matter, can convince me that human beings aren't extraordinary.
Just in case you were wondering, I intentionally avoided addressing any theological arguments concerning free will in this discussion. That discussion can be saved for another time when I choose to be absent. Jesus did, however, clearly acknowledge the existence of choices, and a great deal of his teaching was intended to help us make better decisions.
Among the instructions that Jesus gave concerning choices, the most important one was meant to garner a response:
Above any other decision I have made in my life, the choice to follow Jesus and the way of Jesus has been the most significant. There is no one more worthy of being followed. Not even a close second, in my opinion.
Our ability to choose doesn't just make us human, it makes us eternal.
Eric Costanzo is Minister of Community Ministries and a teaching pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A32288