Decisions, decisions.......making major decisions
We will all have to make some decisions and maybe we face some very big decisions. I have been struck by how often Christians pray and think carefully about a major decision, and involve family members in helping them decide, but completely miss the best way of approaching major choices in life. It is not that any of those things are wrong. In fact, you might well be thinking I have "lost it" if I am against praying etc! Far from it.
The point is that we were made in God's image for community, for fellowship, to be part of a body of people. People are made for people. Often in the Bible the number two signifies fellowship: right at the beginning we have Adam and Eve. Whether we see them as two literal people or as representative of humankind is not particularly important. What matters is the emphasis of scripture on fellowship. When God created He said of everything “It is good” until He came to make Adam; then He said “It is not good for man to live alone.” Gen 2:18. Throughout the Bible there are many examples and instructions that show the importance of fellowship, being joined together as part of God’s people, and often these examples are symbolised as two people.
If we look into the book of Acts we see examples of the early church making decisions. Leaving aside the one example before the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:15-26) the first is in Acts chapter 4. Peter and John explain boldly to the rulers what they were doing and were instructed to stop doing anything in the name of Jesus. They faced a serious and important decision: should they comply or not? Their way of dealing with this was first to share the news with their friends (verse 23) and we can assume this refers to many of the same 120 or so who were in the upper room in Acts 2 and maybe others too. Then the response of Peter and John and the whole community in verses 24 onwards is to pray together about it, not in fear of the Council but in fear of the Lord. The answer becomes obvious as they pray together and God’s presence is made known by shaking the physical place they had gathered (verse 31).
This pattern is repeated in other places but I am particularly struck by Acts 13. The context for a major decision about the missionary thrust was leaders in the church at Antioch worshipping and praying together - then the Holy Spirit spoke to them. Then they prayed and fasted further. In other words, the Spirit will speak but there seem to be certain conditions: we need to focus on worship, prayer and fasting together with others. This is not a formula but a principle. It is the way God has arranged things. He loves to speak (“In the beginning was the Word…” John 1:1 or as JB Phillips translated “In the beginning God expressed Himself!”). But He wants to speak in the context of community to people who are rooted in Christ and therefore in the Body of Christ.
There is wisdom in submitting our thoughts and ideas to others for their input and wise counsel. But notice that the emphasis in these passages is on the friends praying and making worship a priority. We need heavenly wisdom not just good ideas (without that, would Barnabas have suggested he and Saul should go off on a perilous missionary journey, facing persecution and hardship?).
So, if we want to hear from God and make wise decisions we need to hear together with those who are close to us, being built together into the house of God. Some might think this is so counter-cultural in our individualistic, Western society that it is unrealistic. Others might think it is obvious and wonder what the fuss is about. But it is so important to make wise choices that I am keen to emphasise what I see is a major theme in scripture. As we face decisions let’s seek wisdom from God together.