choices

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Modern life seems to be defined by choice. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we drop off in the evening we are faced with choices:

Do I get out of bed?

What do I have for breakfast?

What do I wear today?

And so on. It seems to me that the more we are trying to make life ‘better’ for ourselves the more choices we have. For example:

When I was growing up you could count the number of available television channels on the fingers of one hand and still have one left to stick in your ear. Today you run out of digits on the first screen of choices as you scroll through the TV guide. And we have to decide which sort of mobile phone we will have – are we android or apple (or are we going to subvert the system by going for something more obscure?)? And then we have to choose the apps we want. And we have to choose passwords… so many passwords! And on your computer what web browser are you going to choose?

I don’t have to keep listing them, you know what I am talking about. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Dumbledore seeks to reassure Harry that he is not the same as Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort): “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

And he is right. We are defined and shaped by the choices we make. How others see us will be in the light of those choices as well as through the lens of the choices they have made.

The problem is that sometimes we don’t realise that we have made a choice. ‘Default settings’ that almost every appliance and gadget and piece of equipment come with are necessary as a starting point for users unless they are to boot them up from scratch, but if we blindly accept them (a choice) we find that someone else has decided what our user experience will be.

And sometimes we make a choice by not choosing anything. If you choose not to vote in an election you are choosing not to participate in the democratic process and must accept that your views are not part of the final outcome. Your choice is to accept that others will decide for you.

There are occasions, of course, when we don’t know that we have made a choice, or we make it unthinkingly. How many times have you accepted the terms and conditions of a website, an app, or a computer program without reading them fully? Of course you have. Nobody has the time to read them all from start to finish. You assume that they are benevolent and innocent.

And I have a feeling that most people have an automatic reaction to thinking about God. Instinctively we click ‘ignore’ because we don’t think we have time for him, or we don’t want believing in him to disrupt our life, or we don’t like the version of God that we have been presented with, or it all seems far too difficult and complex to consider… or… or…

I believe that many people have not given him any more thought than they have the terms and conditions of the latest app they have installed on their phone and have instinctively decided that they don’t want to. Until they are faced with more significant moments in their life when they feel out of their depth and want the comfort of praying to someone or the reassurance of the possibility of divine intervention on their behalf. Or until they meet someone whose relationship with God seems so different to their assumptions about him that they are intrigued and want to know more. Or until someone they know and trust starts to talk about God. Or even until they read some random bloggage on an even more random site…

So have you adopted a ‘default’ setting when it comes to God? Jesus tried to make it really simple for us to make a choice: “Follow me.”

If you are a follower of Jesus is it obvious (in a good way) to people around you?

 

compromising circumstances

Inside with no fearA businessman gets on an aeroplane and sits down in the first class section of the plane. The stewardess rushes over to him and tells him he must move to standard class because he doesn’t have a first class ticket. The businessman replies, “I’m a businessman, I’m smart, I have a good job, and I’m staying in first class until we reach Jamaica.”

The disgusted stewardess gets the head stewardess who asks the businessman to leave. The businessman yet again repeats “I’m a businessman, I’m smart, I have a good job and I’m staying in first class until we reach Jamaica.” The head stewardess doesn’t even know what to do at this point because they still have to get the rest of the passengers seated to take off; the businessman is causing a problem with boarding now, so the stewardess gets the copilot.

The copilot goes up to the businessman and whispers in his ear. Immediately the businessman gets up and goes to his seat in the standard class section. The head stewardess asks the copilot in amazement what he said to get him to move to the correct seat. The copilot replies, “I told him the front half of the aeroplane wasn’t going to Jamaica.”

As a family we are starting to consider where to go for our summer holiday next year. I think it’s fairly safe to say that Jamaica is not a likely destination. One of the difficulties in deciding (within a certain budget) is that there are competing interests. One person might want to spend all day basking in sunshine on the beach, another might want to spend all day in the shade. Someone might want to go to a lively resort and another to somewhere peaceful and secluded. One person might like the idea of a self catering holiday last another might fancy and all in, full board experience. And that’s before we’ve even narrowed it down to countries. It probably sounds like there’s a big argument about this. In fact there isn’t, we just haven’t been able to make up our minds yet!

Ultimately what we choose is likely to be a compromise. That might seem like bad news. The word compromise seems to me to be tainted with negativity and the inability to reach a successful conclusion. But compromise is not necessarily a bad thing. If the ultimate goal or cause towards which we are all aiming is something that we all consider to be worthwhile then our own preferences becomes secondary to that goal or cause. In those circumstances compromise enables us to achieve something far better together than we could obtain if one of us got our own way. I think we always have to consider what is most important in any decision-making and keep that as our priority, not allowing ourselves to be distracted by things that are less important or even petty.

In our case each of us would let go of some of our preferences for the sake of having a shared family holiday.

And what about in other areas of life? Is getting our own way more important than bigger goals that we share with others?

What about church? Do we want to get our own way at all costs, or are we willing to compromise for the sake of our shared goals of worshipping Jesus Christ, following him and making him known?

Be blessed, be a blessing.