Christianity teaches that you should choose the one thing needful, but in such a way that there must be no question of any choice. That is, if you fool around a long time, then you are not really choosing the one thing needful. Consequently, the very fact that there is no choice expresses the tremendous passion or intensity with which one chooses. Can there be a more accurate expression for the fact that freedom of choice is only a formal condition of freedom and that emphasizing freedom of choice as such means the sure loss of freedom? The very truth of freedom of choice is that there must be no choice, even though there is a choice.
For example, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We may imagine the priest and the Levite exercising their freedom of choice - to stop or not to stop to help the guy who’s been mugged: checking their watches (do I have the time?), minding their backs (are the muggers still in the area?), fretting about cultic purity (what if he’s dead?). But the Samaritan - he doesn’t weigh his options, check the pros and cons of giving first aid, he doesn’t choose to stop, he just stops, indeed he has to stop, not from constraint but from compulsion (he could do no other); his practical care is simply the self-expression of his kindness, his compassion is (as we say) second-nature, it’s in his guts (as the Greek esplanchnisthe [v. 33] suggests); he does (as Kierkegaard says) the one thing needful. And he thereby demonstrates that he is more, not less, free than the priest or the Levite.
In contemporary society we are betwiched by the mantra of “choice”. We are told - and we think - that the more options we have, the more free we are. Wrong. And not only with respect to “consumer” choice, a quite vulgar construct, ideologically driven, based on the nihilistic reduction of human beings to isolated wills in pursuit of pleasure or power. Of course having freedom (of choice) is a structural prerequisite for being free, but the truly free person always has fewer, not more, choices to make in his life.
That is why the ultimate model of the free person is not Hercules at the crossroads but Jesus in Gethsemane: obedience to the will of God is perfect freedom.