To modern thinkers, autonomy has become the freedom to do whatever I wish and whenever I wish -- without any requirement for rational or moral justification.
There was once a young man who wanted to do his own thing. He asked his Father for his inheritance early. Once received he went off on his foreign travels and spent his inheritance on wild living pleasing himself. But once the money was gone, he found himself working in a dead-end job slaving away. One day he came to his senses and said to himself, “Even those people who work for my Father get better paid and better conditions than this. I will return to my Father and say I am sorry he will surely take me back as one of his workers.” When the young man was still a way off from the family property his Father saw him and ran to him hugging him shouting to all that his son had returned, that he was alive, and that he there would now be a celebration. Self-interest had failed but shared interest had prevailed. The potent modern myth of the autonomous individual fails to match with the inescapable reality of human dependence and relationality. We are not meant to live in the land of self-interest. Listen to the words of Jesus:
One of them was an expert in the Jewish Law. So, he tried to test Jesus by asking, Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, Love others as much as you love yourself.
(Matt 22: 35-39).
When Jesus died on the cross and came back to life in the resurrection these events opened the possibility for people to be freed from the power of self-centredness and death. To know and experience the power of God’s love that transforms the world and the hearts and minds of people brings a new status -- not autonomous, but ‘Christonomous’.
The work of Jesus was done on the cross so that we might become witnesses to God’s amazing grace for the world.