Maddie and I were talking last night at bed time and she was telling me about what she was learning about at church. They're going through the book of Genesis. We started talking about Adam and Eve and had a conversation that I thought was very cool:
Me: "So why did God create us with the choice to go disobey him in the beginning? Why didn't he create us to just obey?"
Maddie: "Because then we'd be robots Dad. If you don't have a choice to love, it's not really love."
Me: "Well then why didn't God come down with all his power and might and tell us to bow down before him?"
Maddie: "Because fear isn't the same as love, Dad. How would God know if we really loved him, or if we were just afraid of him?"
Maddie gets things in her faith at the age of ten that I didn't get until I was much older. She's a wise little kid in a lot of ways. She understands why God's love for us compelled Jesus to come to earth as a carpenter and not as a king in ways that I never did until I was much older. The conversation reminded me of the the story of story of "The King and the Maiden" by Søren Kierkegaard:
Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had strength to crush all opponents. And yet, this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist -- no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at this side? How could he know? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that an unequal can be made equal.