[Born to be wild: then the eyes of them were opened]
From out of the late 1960’s came a song that was recorded by the group Steppenwolf, called “Born to be Wild.” The title of this iconic song quickly became a “wildly” popular catch phrase for the biker community, due to its film debut in the 1969 movie “Easy Rider.” Written by Canadian-born Mars Bonfire (his stage name; his true name being Dennis Eugene McCrohan), “Born to be Wild” was written shortly after Bonfire purchased a used Ford falcon. Prior to purchasing the vehicle, he’s reported as saying that he was pretty much trapped in his apartment, so the song naturally flowed from the sensation of the freedom he felt while out on the open road. One of the lines of the song reads like this: “Like a true nature’s child we were born, born to be wild.”
To be wild is to be unleashed and untamed: free to roam and do as one chooses with that freedom. Just as Dennis Eugene McCrohan tasted that freedom in his used Ford falcon, we all come into the world with that taste of freedom as well: we call it free will. While God gave all of us this free will, our freedom to choose also revealed (to us) the true heart and mind of mankind. Because God is Omnipresent (meaning that He isn’t bound by time, for He exists in all places at all times), God knew what man would choose. However, He also planned long ago for the outcome of our choices.
“Someone will say, “Build a road! Build a road! Prepare the way! Make the way clear for my people.” And this is the reason: God lives forever and is holy. He is high and lifted up. He says, “I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are sad and humble.” –Isaiah 57:14-15
Scripture reveals that given the choice to heed the voice of God or not, the first man (Adam), and His wife (Eve) gravitated towards their own inklings, disregarding God’s authoritative instruction. Eve was deceived by Satan, who appears to her as a serpent in the opening book of the Bible, but the choice was still hers. Adam also had His instigator (Eve), who handed him the fruit, but he too chose to listen to Eve instead of God, and ate from the forbidden tree.
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
We call this nature in us sin; It’s our strong rebellious will to do things in our own way, as opposed to what God desires–disregarding His authority. Though warned, Adam and Eve did eat fruit from the forbidden tree; the one and only tree in the garden that God commanded Adam was specifically off limits. Isn’t this just like us though? This disobedient nature is evident from a very young age. Small children often push the boundaries to see what they can get away with. They don’t usually like the word “No” either, though they quickly latch onto the word when it suits their own purpose.
We call Adam and Eve’s sin “original sin,” and we call this point in history the “fall of mankind” because before Adam and Eve’s disobedience, everything God had created was considered good. I guess you could say that before the “original sin” the world God created was without spot or blemish. His glory (the overwhelming beauty that is God) was evident in everything that He had created.
In fact, God created the earth and everything in it for His glory–that is, He created everything so that all that He is could be seen in what He created (Isaiah 43:7). Artists express themselves in much the same way, whether they are musicians, painters, poets, filmmakers, performers or writers. On a much grander scale God has expressed Himself through all that He has created. We try to express His glory through our own expressions, but we can never fully fathom all that God is. We really only scratch the surface.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” –Job 11:7
Even today, in our fallen world, though His beautiful world has been tainted by our sinful inclinations, we can still see God’s glory all around us if we just take the time to look; It’s in the sunset; it’s in the stars at night; it’s in the rainbow; it’s in every blade of grass and flowering plant. It’s also in the birth of a child; it’s in a warm embrace; it’s in acts of kindness; it’s in forgiveness, and it’s in mercy. For those of us who believe, It’s there in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross–in spades. As one of my favorite Bible Scripture puts it, we have no excuse. We can’t avoid it. God’s nature surrounds us. Even man himself is a reflection of who God is, even though that expression was marred by our rebellion.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” –Romans 1:20
We may have been born “wild,” but God never intended for us to stay so “wild.” We come into this world stubborn, thick headed, and strong willed, and I suppose we could argue this point with God, blaming Him for creating us to be the people we are, but as Scripture puts it:
“Everything that happens was planned long ago. A man is only what He was created to be. It is useless to argue with God about it. This is because God is more powerful than man is. The more you argue the more useless it is. You gain nothing by arguing.” –Ecclesiastes 6:10-11
When a parent doesn’t guide, correct and discipline their children, we say that they let their children run wild. God however trains up His children in the way they should go. He also disciplines the ones He loves. All that He does is what’s best for us, but like a rebellious child, we prefer our own way.
C.S. Lewis–one of my favorite thinkers and novelists–was also a wonderful Christian Apologist. He wrote about his views on free will in his book titled “The Case for Christianity.” This is what he had to say regarding free will:
“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.
Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”
It’s both a beautiful and frightening thing to have God open your eyes. Like Adam and Eve, when we’ve been exposed we want to cover our nakedness, which is the shame of our sin. We’ve felt the same thing when we’ve been caught red handed by a parent. As believers in Christ we sing, “I once was blind but now I see,” with joy, as well as humility. Thankfulness is in there too, for we understand the need for our Father’s discipline. We live in awe and wonder of all that He is, knowing the peace and true freedom that comes with being born again through the Holy Spirit, becoming–amazingly–true children of God.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” –Genesis 3:7
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 18:3
“Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” –Acts 2:38
Whatever your preferred mode of travel, go ahead and enjoy the road that God has put before you (Deuteronomy 30:19), but always remember: we are allowed to do all things, but not all things are good for us to do. How should we use our freedom then? All to the glory of God.
“We are allowed to do all things,” but not all things are good for us to do. “We are allowed to do all things,” but not all things help others grow stronger.
Info on the origin story of the song “Born to be Wild” was gathered and paraphrased from this site. The full article is pretty interesting, if you enjoy origin stories. Obviously I do. 🙂