How Do We
Every month we will present a topic for thought, reflection and study. When we read these truths, it is not just in some cursory fashion, but rather we should spend as much time as we can over the course of the month trying to really understand it and the implications that it brings.
We hope that this is a source for new knowledge or at least greater understanding of truths already known.
ANDREW AND JOHN
Centuries ago two men, Andrew and John, followed another Man on a dusty road in the Middle East. They were curious and shy, wanting to talk to Him, but afraid to approach Him. He saved them the trouble by turning and asking, What are you looking for? (John 1:38).
Our Lord asked them about what we call intentionality. John the Baptist had just proclaimed Christ as the Lamb of God, or Messiah. The Messiah was supposed to bring Israel happiness. Andrew and John were two fisherman who came to listen to John the Baptist. At his words they followed Christ. Their intention? They wanted to follow the Messiah, to find happiness.
INTENTIONS GIVE MEANING
What we want in life reflects what we think will make us happy. Andrew and John could have followed Christ because they wanted another fisherman to share their work, or because they thought He would connect them with the superior Jews! Intentions are essential for determining whether we do things because we must, or because we want to be happy.
Through our actions we change not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Andrew and John gained eternal happiness through their friendship with Christ. They helped preach the Gospel and convert the known world... Andrew and John became saints!
INTENTIONS SHOW CHARACTER
By looking at the choices in our lives we find out what is important to us. In order to figure out what is important to you, think about what you prioritize when there is a conflict between two things. Studies or friends? Family time or work? Priorities reveal our character!
Our intentions explain why we do what we do. Intentions show us our character. Character reveals what we think true happiness is and how we go after it.
Sometimes we do not respect this hierarchy in our actions. Sometimes our priorities change over time. They can change for the better by knowledge and maturity, or for the worse by sin.
A parent changes their whole life for their child. To give him the best, they sacrifice. Their intentions change because their character has matured. A pornographer changes his habits as well to accommodate his sin. He might spend more time alone. He might neglect real friendships with women, since for him they are objects, not people. His habit changes him.
Freedom means that you act without influence. Influence is a very broad concept. It can mean force (gun to the head), pressure (friends), or even a previous influence (abusive parents). Acting freely, therefore, is acting without being influenced; it is not an either-or.
FREEDOM OF INDIFFERENCE…
Are those influences merely external? Let us go back to Andrew and John. Christ had been pointed out to them as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. They were free to investigate concerning Him…right? Yes, they were free to follow Him or not. This means freedom is simply a capacity to choose (Freedom of Indifference). They were free to follow along that dusty road, or remain home.
However, let us reflect - Andrew and John could not remain home; they had to follow Christ! They were just told by an honest man that He was the Lamb of God! They chose, but would another choice have been free? For an action to be truly free, it chooses a good (Freedom of Excellence).
If the point of human action is happiness, then to choose knowingly against our good is choosing against our freedom. If Andrew and John had not followed Christ, they would have been unhappy. Freedom, then, is not a right - it is a skill that must be developed! Next time, we will see how we develop it.
1. Is there an overall intention that directs your actions? What is it?
2. Read Mark 10, 17-22. Is the young man acting freely?
3. What choices in your life do you think make you less free?