God exercises his freedom in love

Since his existence is not a given thing, God is not obliged to choose whether to say yes or no to it. For him there is only one way to exercise freedom, and that is affirmatively, positively. What is there for him to say no to? God has the freedom of saying yes. The Father’s freedom is expressed by saying yes to the Son, and the freedom of the Son is expressed in saying yes to the Father. This is the yes and yes again, that the Apostle Paul says (2 Corinthians 1.19) has come to us in Christ. Since for God nothing is given, there is nothing which he has to refuse. For God, the exercise of freedom does not take the form of a choice, but it is exercised voluntarily, in the form of love, expressed in his trinitarian life. If we apply this to human existence, freedom is not sometimes yes and sometimes no, but only ever yes. There is only one way to exercise freedom to demonstrate that you are free, and that is love. Giving your affirmation to beings other than yourself is the only way to exercise freedom. Our food therefore consists in saying that you acknowledge that this exists for you, that you desire it and intend it to become part of your very being. The relevant verse in the Second Letter to the Corinthians tell us that ‘Jesus Christ who is amongst you and is preached by you, did not become yes and no, but in him it has always been yes’ (2 Corinthians 1.19). God’s ‘yes’ and Christ’s ‘yes’ is now the freedom of affirmation.

This is the way in which God is who he is, as trinity. The Father freely consents to this Son, desires him and acknowledges him as his Son, freely. God exercises his freedom in love and affirmation when the Father begets the Son, and when he sends the Holy Spirit. This opens up a way of life for man which consists in exercising our freedom affirmatively, as love. This exercise of freedom transforms us into the likeness of God. The image of God is fulfilled in the self-government of man who, though he is able to say no, says yes, as God does. This is how we may join those great lovers of God and of man, the spiritual Fathers, who have learned how to break out of their individual will to submit themselves to the other, in the person of their spiritual father.

John Zizioulas