I’ve started a new series on our Origins in the faith and will explore that issue under the headings: Deciding, Dying, and Living. It was partly prompted by a small group who have asked about baptism. So what follows here is the first in the series: DECIDING
That’s just like me The moment suddenly seemed right and I knew what I wanted to do; in fact if I didn’t make the commitment now I’d probably never make it; never find the courage again; never find the right relationship. As far as I could tell all the right conditions and circumstances were there, so….. my thoughts went something like, “Do it! Now!” So I did wondering how it was going down, full of hope and uncertainty all at once, when she suddenly started laughing – at me! “Are you asking what I think you are, or are you asking me to shack up with you; you’d better ask properly – just in case.” Oh, that sounded promising. Quick! down on my knees, which made her laugh even harder. “Will you marry me Bernadette? gulp!” She stopped laughing long enough to say, “Of course I will, silly!”
Don’t we often come to points where we have to make serious decisions about steps or beginnings in our lives? Where there is a clear choice of one way or the other: accountancy or architecture; toyota or citroen; Grey Lynn or Forrest Hill; jock or geek; vegetarian or meat eater; emigrate or stay. At each pint we have to make a choice for and a consequent choice against. The reason for the decision, the motivation can be trivial or serious – like choosing a car based on colour, spending a week in prayer before agreeing to a marriage proposal.
Whatever the motivator, we come to a point where we have to make a choice one way or the other…for our preferred choice and against our lesser preference. A decision is involved…just like it is with the total shaping of our lives that some call our spirituality and others call our lifelong commitment. Like following Jesus.
How did you come to be a follower of Jesus? (Assuming you have become a follower.) It’s the result of two decisions – yes two.
The first decision is the one that has always been true and has caused you to even look at the direction of your life. The first decision is God’s decision for you, shown in the manifest love of Jesus Christ for lost sinners. [Romans 5.8; Ephesians 2.4; John 1.13] This decision for us is shown as an invitation to join Him, to receive His love, to walk with Him and allow Him to reshape your life forever. [Check the many parable of the Kingdom feast eg. Luke 14.12-24]
This prior decision of God for us is also a stunning indicator of His grace, the very grace that saves us, that engages us in believing. This is what the beautiful words of Ephesians 2.8-9 are all about. “For by grace you have been saved through faith…” Grace comes first, and is if you like the motivator of the first decision, God’s decision.
Thus we are motivated by the quiet and seemingly secret work of the Holy Spirit pointing to the love and grace of God that invites into His forever family; this is where the second decision is made…”But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1.12-13] However the Spirit contrives to confront us with God’s decision for us, whether it’s something we hear spoken about, or see demonstrated, or read in a book, the desire of God is that we should make a decision for Him and for the love that will totally shape and direct our lives forever.
What are you deciding for? You are deciding for liberation from the power of sin over your own life and for the building of a community of the liberated to both tell and live that message in the face of whichever community you find yourself placed. You are deciding to have the focus of your life to be no longer about you and your plans, but to be about the plans and agenda of the Creator and Liberator of the whole of the Cosmos and about your place in that plan. You are deciding for the eternal kind of life both sides of death – where you are surrounded by and empowered by a power and a love stronger than death, a life where prayer gets answered and hurts can be healed.
What should you do about it? In a word; decide. Not just for the first time in response to God’s first decision for you, but every day, in every intersection where you have to choose between issues of no seeming significance and issues of great moment. Decide for whatever you know or believe to be God’s way, because God has a way through every issue in your life, even about what you wear, what you eat (especially how much), what you drive, where you work, who you marry, even where you live and the work to which you give your effort and creativity.
The decision can be stated as God-first in all things [1 Corinthians 10.31; Matthew 22.36-40 ]; a passion for God’s glory in everything we attempt and enter into. We are never the victim of circumstances, never. In Christ we always have a choice and we are continually called to decide for Him and His way.
As the prophet Isaiah says; Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. [51.1] Or as Bernadette would say, remember where you’ve come from. Remember God’s decision for you and where that came from in His love and grace, and then have regard for the decision you have made for the love that nothing can quench and the peace that defeats all explanation; and then let THAT determine your decisions in all aspects of life, that way you will have honoured your origins in God.