We find the following reading in the Liturgy of the Hours at today’s None or afternoon prayer. It is not a very difficult or long text, but it does articulate what, in my opinion is a very important aspect of the relationship between God and people, especially in its day-to-day reality:
“God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows, that is what he will reap. If his sowing is in the field of self-indulgence, then his harvest from it will be corruption; if his sowing is in the Spirit, then his harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life.”
The image that some people have of religious people – that they are somehow mindless followers of some ancient commandments – is disproven by this passage. I’ve said it before: God takes us seriously. He lets us take our own decisions since we are intelligent and independent beings. He also lets us take our responsibility; it’s not as if He steps in whenever we make some dumb or even dangerous decision. Why not? Because as intelligent and independent beings we can take our responsibility and be expected to think before we act. That means we can take credit for what we do, but also the blame for things that go wrong.
In the context of our relationship with God, this means that we are free in how we relate to Him. We are able to find our way in the world, but there are consequences to the choices we make. While we can choose to follow God or ignore Him, we must be aware of the consequences of each of these actions.
The passage above is not objective, of course. The author, St. Paul, does not pretend that he does not care what choice his audience makes. There are right and wrong choices, but we are free and able to make them, and God will never impose His will upon us.