Friday, May 30, 2008

Christian Decision Making - Final Principles



Now that I have discussed what's wrong with the Evangelical-Dualistic approach to decision making, I want to lay out some principles that I think are much more in touch with the reality which God has made.

1) Most of the time God doesn't give a rat's ass about which choice you make. Believe it or not, God does not have an opinion about most of the decisions that you make in your life. I'm sorry, but you are not the center of the universe. This does not mean that God doesn't love you immensely nor that God is not in control but he's not your butler either. But nowhere in scripture can you support the ideal that God is a micro-manager nor do we live in a fatalistic universe.

God created you (me, everyone) and this wonderful world. He created our minds our bodies. Our taste, desires and dreams have developed through our experiences and most of the time these are amoral in themselves . . . neither good or bad. But God, who loves us, wants us to enjoy what he's made. God looks at this wonderful world He's made and turns us loose and says, "Enjoy it baby!"

Of course I am not saying that we are free to sin (and sin is to be defined narrowly here, not every little imperfection that "may not please God" like spitting, miss-pronouncing words . . . yada, yada, yada is sin. Evangelicalism has a yoke of "sin" that is unbearable for any mortal. Things like, "Don't offend another Christian. Don't be a bad witiness." Here is how you can look at God's simple requiements:

Micah 6: 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

2) God is not a cruel mystic. In other words, God doesn't hide "his will," leaving us to search for it like a bloodhound with a bad cold, and if we make one mistake in finding it, a terrible disaster will fall on us (for the choice that we made). Relax. If it is not blatant sin (okay, you can't choose to go visit a prostitute . . . God does care about sinful choices), then don't get a knot in your shorts about it. Sure your business may fail . . . so what. Enjoy the journey!

3) Be Honest About Motives. When all things are said and done, we all end up doing what we want to do anyway. There's no need to spiritualize everything just for the sake of cover. If you have always dreamt of going to China, you don't have to visit an orphanage and calling it "mission trip" to justify it. Be honest. Say you are going for the fun of the adventure. All your motives ARE NOT PURE. Some of them may be.

If you wanted to be a missionary in Africa, and 30% of your motive was to tell the lost about Christ . . . then maybe 20% is for the adventure, 30% for your self-esteem to be looked up to as a great missionary and then (what does that leave . . . 20%?) 10% is to get as far away as you can from you nagging mother-in-law . . . and 10% is to see bare-breasted native women every day, then be honest about it. If 80% is to see bare-breasted native women, then maybe you shouldn't go!

4) Use the same (intellectual) decision-making processes as the non-Christian. Certainly we need to pray . . . asking God to show you your honest motives, and to reveal any sin that you need to avoid. But look at the pros and cons.

We, Christians have a great advantage over the non-Christian. Our future is not sealed by a simple poor choice. The worst thing that could happen is that we loose all our money, and we are killed. But Scripture is clear that no circumstances can change our destiny before God.

Maybe more . . . if I can think of anything that I left out.

6 comments:

deaconandusher said...

Couldn't agree with you more.....

Failure opens your eyes to these truths! Lived failure my whole life - caused by others, caused by me.....

Deacon & Usher

MJ said...

There's something good to be said about brokeness.

Brian said...

At one time I believed the standard "perfect will" stuff that was(and is) so prevalent in Evangelical circles. And then we actually did Blackaby's Experiencing God study at church and I just couldn't reconcile what was being taught with the scripture being used to support. So I decided to read an alternative view and see which one was truer to scripture. I ended up reading Decision Making and The Will of God by Friesen and Maxson.

That book(plus some other circumstances) changed the way I viewed decision making and really relieved a lot of the pressure of finding God's "perfect" will for my life. It's interesting to hear you come at it from the Monist point of view. It looks like we arrived at the same point via different routes. But I like the foundation you've laid for looking at God's involvement with the world and with me.

It would be interesting to hear your opinion on a related topic - "hearing" God's voice. Evangelical decision making seems to rely on the ability to do this as it's bread and butter. It even makes it a learned ability and measures maturity based on how well you can head God talking to you. Very pernicious teaching, I think.

MJ said...

Thanks Brian,

I would like to read the book you mentioned.

Regarding "God's voice," where I'm at right now, is that I believe that you have to be very careful about "hearing God's voice." I think it is easily abused and becomes cover for doing things that we want to do for earthly (thus not always bad) motives but then wanted to cover it with a "spiritual" cover.

The best example is the Navigator guy who led me to the Lord. There was the beautiful gal that came into our ministry and "God spoke" to Tom, telling him to marry her. He said he hadn't even noticed her "outward beauty." Now right. All of us guys were drooling over her. He convinced her that God waned her to marry him(and she was stunned about the whole thing). They did get married and remained married for about 20 years before she left him.

Can God speak to someone? Well, in Biblically history it sure looks that way. But my feeling is that it is rare. I think the vast majority of "God speaking to me" is psychological gymnastics to justify something you want or to make yourself look spiritual. But again, maybe God does speak to people more than I realize. But, I do know that we are deeply fallen and that does not go away overnight. In our fallen heart, we easily decieve ourselves . . . so we have to be very, very careful and not follow the example of the Gnostics (to which God was constantly and privately "speaking")

Mike

Brian said...

Mike,

Thanks for your reply and insights. What I tend to see of God speaking in the Biblical accounts is much more objective than what people talk about today. Like you said in your post, people will use the "God told me" card to justify what they want to do.

The Friesen book is quite lengthy(400+ pages) but is a good read. If you want to get the abbreviated view of what Friesen teaches you can look here :

http://gfriesen.net/sections/willofgod_principles.php

MJ said...

I totally agree (about the Biblical accounts being much more objective). I mean an ass speaking real Hebrew words is pretty objective. The "God speaking to me" tool is very powerful. I can walk into almost any Evangelical church do almost anything I want, and for almost any motive, but say "God led me, or spoke to me" and (almost) no one would question me.