“Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:13-16
Based on these verses some Christians believe in predestination. God decides all our live. God loves us or hates us. We can’t change that. If God wants us to become Christians, we will become it. Or God wants us to be atheists. In this way Esau had no chance. His misfortune was already decided before his birth. Paul says that that is God’s righteousness.
For me this sounds too fatalistic. Such a bad life if you can’t influence your fate. I think that psychologists who say that such a theology can make people depressed are right.
First of all I want to say now that you can’t know if someone is called by God. Some people don’t care about religion almost all their live, but at the end shortly before they die they convert. You don’t know earlier what will happen. But also the opposite happens. Some people grow up in a Christian environment but later they lose their faith. And what about ourselves? Do we know about ourselves if God hates us or loves us? We don’t know how our live will end. We have to give people chances. Maybe God loves them.
Personally I think at another verse where Jesus himself says: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14. All these people who are invited, doesn’t God love them? I think He does! They belong to Jacob’s group. God does give them a choice! But not everyone answers God’s invitation. Only a few people do answer. Isn’t that their own action? Isn’t that a choice they have to make for themselves? Or do I see it wrong? I think we do can choose our future.
What is the connection between what Jesus says here and what Paul writes? Didn’t God know that only a few would answer his invitation? Why than does he invite many? Why does God not only invite people who will be chosen?
Personally, the idea that I can influence my live makes me happy. It is a positive theology. God invited me and I answered. I experience that as my own choice. Just like Joshua gave the Israelites a choice: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24: 15
When I was younger I learned that mankind is created with an own free will and that God respects this free will. Of all the people who are invited, some of them choose with their own free will to answer that invitation. They choose to be obedient to their calling. They choose to live a Christian live, based on their calling. That’s why they will be chosen. We can’t choose if we belong to that large group of people who are invited. It is God who invites or not. That is true in the theology of predestination. But after that invitation it is our responsibility if we will be chosen. And that gives some control over our live. And it stimulates us to choose each day to do what is right and good.