This post is an installment in the “Let Me Tell You a Story” Series. It ought to be read in order and in context. For the introduction to this story, click anywhere on this text. There you will also find a table of contents.
In addition to everything else he already gave them, the King gave the people one more gift: freedom. Yes, freedom. He gave them the choice to enter into this relationship that he wanted, in spite of how much he knew it would pain him (and the people) if they chose not to have that relationship. It’s all a little difficult really. It’s difficult to understand because the whole concept of freedom was strange. They had it because it was one of the King’s own characteristics, and they also had it because the King loved them.
Nobody likes to be in a relationship in which the other person does not want to be in the relationship. Consequently, each member has the choice to remain or not remain in the relationship. If someone wants to be your friend, they have the ability to do so. You may choose to show them love and affection. They also can make a decision to respond to that love and affection, or to reject it. Essentially, this is what the King was allowing the people: the choice to respond to that love or to reject it.
I suppose the people were not able to make a choice about something, though. Unlike a friend choosing not be friends, a son cannot choose not to be a son anymore, nor can a daughter. By virtue of having been born, a person has no choice about being a son or a daughter. The same was true with this King and his people. He was allowing them to choose to love him back, but they really did not have a choice about their identity. It was a fact that he made them, and thus it could not be optional. If you were to give the ant your human characteristics, as we discussed before, no matter how much the ant resembled you, there is no refuting or denying that the ant was made “humanly”, but is not factually human. The human made the ant humanly, and that fact never changes no matter how loving the human may be. I hope you can fathom the importance of this.
This is important, as discussed earlier, because it helps us understand how very loving all these gifts are now. The King, as we said, did not need all of this, but he wanted it. Yet the King gave the people the choice as to whether or not they would respond the love of the King.
Like any parent, the King desired that his children to love him back. So he put in them the ability to love him back or refuse. This freedom of choice showed that the King truly was not interested in slaves. If he wanted slaves, there was really no reason for him to give the people his own traits or any other gift. In fact, he would not need or want a slave to love him. Moreover, because he had the ability to do whatever he wanted, a slave would be totally unnecessary. If I have a magic wand that can do my bidding by thought alone, why would I invest time, energy and money into hiring someone to do those tasks? No, it would be foolish to do so.
So the King freely giving himself to the people was a supreme act of love. It was a denial of his own being for the sake of something to which he owes nothing. He allowed himself to condescend from his greatness to live and exist for something else, that something else that did not even have to exist. I know, this is a little bit philosophical, but it is really deep. Think about it one more time: a Thing exists. It has no need of any other thing in existence. Yet this Thing makes another thing, and sacrifices for that thing. That sacrifice brings no gain to the Thing, in fact, it only brings work for the Thing. That Thing hopes for the thing to care back, and gives that thing full freedom to do so, but continues to care for the thing irrespective of the decision. That’s love.
So this gift of freedom served one purpose: an expression of love. The ability to choose is the ability to love. I would peradventure to say that, without freedom, it is impossible to love. A person’s free acts allow to express what is in one’s heart. In choosing to do something that brings another person joy, I show them my value of them. In choosing the opposite, I still show them my value of them. The former value is positive, while the latter would seem negative.