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God vs. Man?

~“He chose…Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
(Luke 6:16)

The question pops up every now and then. Whether in a cell-group, a student fellowship,
during a Bible-study, over teh tarik, in sermons or anytime/where: Did God determine
that Judas would betray Jesus? If so, was Judas personally and truly responsible? If not,
then was there a chance that Judas might not have been a traitor (thereby ‘spoiling’ the
divine plan on the Cross)? On the other hand, if Jesus knew Judas would betray Him,
what does that say about the divine criteria for apostles?

These are not exactly “Asian-oriented” questions, but many Asians are asking it (if only
because of the explosion of ‘Western’ education in ASEAN). And, more often than not,
many of us in the Oriental are feeling the anxiety of the dilemma.

The recommended solutions are legion. Some say God is fully sovereign; His is the right
to lift up or tear down any created vessel of His choosing. Some say Man is given the
reality-defining gift of freewill, such that not even God is a 100% certain of what
outcomes may arise. Some say God works through Man’s freedom, others that God
succeeds in spite of it; some say God merely foreknew Man’s actions and thus
‘interference’ with our freedom is not an issue; yet others that we cannot, in principle,
understand and the entire exercise is futile (let’s just focus on more important things).

Whilst such issues are certainly not of utmost importance (in the light of growing global
crises and the urgency of kingdom-building) I believe God delights in His beloved’s
attempts to ‘figure Him out’. As long as our motives are sincere, our methods honest and
comprehensive, and our intentions God-glorifying, I believe it glorifies God when we
seek to provide Biblically-informed answers about such existential quandaries. Although
we may never have the answer this side of death, we can still enjoy the journey of
learning and the process of ‘iron-sharpening-iron’ when we have theological
conversations with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But let’s not be too ‘harsh’ on Judas. For though most of us believe we are God’s elect
and chosen people, have we not also been “traitors” of His kingdom in a real sense? God
has chosen us, but we have nevertheless, on many occasions, chosen against Him. Yet we
believe He continues to love us (don’t we?).

I shudder.

+List down four of five Christian leaders respected in the community. Go ask them
their view of the God/Man sovereignty/freedom conundrum. If possible, get them to
justify their views Biblically. Reflect on their ‘solutions’ – which one is most helpful?