Posted by: edsohn | March 31, 2008

Decision-Making Addenda

I wanted to share a few lingering thoughts about decision-making using Acts 1:20-26 as a lens, since I led a Bible study on the topic this past Sunday.   Forgive me if this is of the more traditional, exegetical strain and less of the interesting, hip, cool, postmodern strain.

For those unfamiliar with the story, basically, Judas killed himself and the magic number of 12 (historically significant in Jewish culture) apostles were now one short.  To fill the spot, they found two candidates, prayed, and then cast lots (sort of like drawing straws?) for who it would be.  It turned out that Matthias was the big winner.

1.  They considered what the Bible had to say.

Why even decide to fill Judas’s shoes?  Because Peter found verses that say that another should take his place.  I haven’t done an in-depth analysis of this, but the point is, the decision was even brought to the surface because of Biblical instruction.

I don’t think this means we have to scour the traditions of the Testaments for something that may or may not apply into our specific circumstances, but I do think that the Bible is a starting point, as our holy text, that is completely about our God.

2.  They considered their criteria.

This was just a matter of being objective, logical, analytical.  If an apostle’s job is to be a “sent one”, then that person’s testimony of Christ would be essential.  That makes sense.   Today, some may feel that being led by faith in making decisions means blindly seeking divine intervention.  But reasoning is not inherently evil; our brains were created in the ways that they think and evaluate situations.  The Bible is a book full of great adventures and twisting plots, but also filled with a bunch of shrewd people whose common sense takes into account a speaking God.

3.  They exercised their faculties.

This is related to the last point, but somehow, they came up with two.  I’m sure that there were more than two guys out there that could meet the criteria, but in one way or another, they narrowed it down to two.  This goes to show that the criteria were applied, not just considered.  They felt confident enough to act on what they figured out.

4.  They prayed.

I’ve been told that it’s not what you decide, but how and for what purpose you make decisions.  Prayer acknowledges our neediness for the one true God, a real, active being that engages with our lives.  Prayer also acknowledges our paucity of understanding of His heart, because asking God for advice inherently indicates our ignorance, our incomplete knowledge.  We ask because we don’t KNOW.

I think this admission of ignorance is so vital.  So many times, we pray to sprinkle pixie dust on decisions we’ve already made up.  And sometimes we even make those decisions with Biblical principles in mind, with a heart that wants to please God, with intentions that want to be as CHRISTIAN as possible.  But we cannot intimate all such knowledge apart from the Spirit of God, that engages actively to teach and guide and convict.

Again, this all interacts with the entire process, with the God-given faculties, the Bible, our common sense.  As jadanzzy wrote earlier, Christ-following decision-making does not mean endless hours of mystical prayer awaiting a supernatural/emotional response.  But the act of humility in praying to a God whose ways are higher reminds us of the posture of the created in view of the creator.

5.  They basically flipped a coin.

This is the best part, I think, and something that we shy away from.  Dear Lord, may this coin flip be something that tells us what you want.  Amen.

But in view of the exercise of their minds, of understanding their calling and situation, of seeking out the wisdom from the Scriptures, and the assurance of prayer, doesn’t this confirm that there IS an element of a leap of faith?

And in a sense, this is a reminder for us to remember that decisions require faith.  The context and culture in which that faith operates is a conversation that is rapidly changing today, and it is an exciting one.  But one way or another, our decisions are an adventure into the unknown.

No matter how much we know, no matter what new and interesting ideas come to guide our spiritual walks, when confronted with the toughest decisions, there’s confidence in casting lots if we’ve connected with God along the way.

Matthias himself is an interesting character, and I wonder how the apostles’ decision that day affected the worldwide church.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: