Indecision: Friday’s Rough Draft
How can Lewis be a High School Senior? Wasn’t it yesterday that he rode his bike to elementary school? Life unfolds in the midst of our busyness. Life unfolds as we decide, eat at home or stop at Sonic. Decisions are made, lives are shaped as plan our weekends. We teach life by the way we live. Paul warns “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of every opportunity… Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:15-18. Next year our circle of influence will be greatly reduced. Lewis will pull out of our driveway and into his own near-adult adventure.
Life is too short to not think about how we spend our time. Many of my friends are posting the question on Facebook: “where did the time go?”
- Where did the 4,380 days since kindergarten go?
- How well did I use the 105,120 hours God gave us?
- Did I use the 6.3 million minutes to shape Lewis into the image of Jesus Christ?
- Where will the time go?
- Will we seek to shape our lives after the ways of God or be shaped by life?
- Will we invite God to direct our everyday living or will God be secondary to our planning?
- Will the practices of the faith be central to our living or activities we fit into our busy schedule?
- Are we intentional in our living or thoughtless consumers of the culture?
- Are we following Christ or just taking the path that comes along?
The book of Joshua closes with Joshua as the leader and judge of Israel speaking to the people. “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Now fear the Lord and serve God with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped … and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served or the gods of this land. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!
Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. God is a holy God; The Lord is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve false gods, God will bring disaster on you, after God has been good to you.” But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.” Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” “Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.
“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the false gods that are among you and yield/incline/bend/direct/ your hearts to the Lord. (Say an unqualified yes in your hearts to God)
Joshua knows the people are not wholly directed towards God. They dabble in things Of God, but hang onto false lesser gods. They won’t make an unqualified yes in their hearts. Their mouths say yes, their creeds perhaps, but they harbor false gods. We might argue that say we are more sophisticated than these idol worshippers, but Los Vegas, our sports and entertainment cultures might attest to our love of idolatry.
The church culture vacillates in an unsteady state of pseudo-Christianized indecision. The Lay leadership committee will call people, and folks will say “I am so busy” that I can’t right now. Our church folks treat the spiritual life like a hobby, like a competing activity. This pseudo-Christianized culture begs off serving today, treating matters of faith, church, spiritual living and religious practice like another activity.
Joshua bellows: “Choose you this day, who you will serve, put down those false things”
Paul preaches “Don’t act thoughtlessly. Make the most of your time. Find out the will of God. Do it!”
We have to decide what is Almighty, Holy, Above us, Highest Good, the One Worthy Of Our Time!
Today, we have to decide what is Lord of our time or we will serve 1,000 tiny masters!
- What will you honor?
- What will you worship?
- What will you serve?
- What will you do with the next 365 days, 8,760 hours, half million minutes?
Joshua knew that without a decision people are deciding to stay the same. Joshua knew that without throwing a few things out people are choosing to keep things the same. Joshua knew that without a choosing we vacillate and do nothing. Joshua knew that Indecision is a decision. Joshua knew that saying I will decide tomorrow is deciding not to follow God today.
If I say “I ought to eat healthier and exercise more”, that is not as powerful as logging into My Fitness Pal app and recording what I ate for breakfast. Believing “prayer matters” is not as effectual as setting your phone timer and praying on the porch for 12 minutes.
Indecision is a decision.
Saying I will decide tomorrow is deciding not to follow God today.
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus said to another, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 )
Indecision is a decision.
Saying I will decide tomorrow is deciding to not follow God today.
Lip service is not service
Believing the right things without action is close to useless.
James thunders “So you see, faith by itself is not enough. Unless faith produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:17)”
“I know the things you do! You are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm, I am about to spit you out of my mouth! … Be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:15-16, 19-20 )
Today, we must decide!
Indecision about the things of God is a decision to not follow God!
Once upon a time I worked for about 20 months for a large non-profit. I was one of the few men in the company. I often worked and a traveled with a very attractive female colleague. Many days we spent hours in the car together making sales calls. There was no satellite radio, cellphones or even a tape deck in our company car so we chatted. We laughed bantered and became friends. As a future pastor I had good listening skills and during our windshield time she began unpacking her life. One steamy Friday afternoon my attractive colleague was winding down a long particularly touching story. Traffic was thick and we sat waiting at a small town stop light. When I looked over to reassure her that I was listening she made an overture that about curled my hair. I looked away at the traffic and then back at my attractive colleague. She licked her upper lip, laughed and smiled. I nervously laughed. The light turned green, traffic opened up and we soon arrived at the office. She hopped out and I drove home.
All the way home my attractive colleagues somewhat vague and ambiguous flirty proposition hung in the air. I knew we would spend the next week together at a trade show. Indecision! Should I share my colleagues’ words with Connie my wife of a few years? Connie might get mad! Connie might get nervous. Connie might call out my possible flirting. Indecision! Maybe I misunderstood what my attractive colleague meant? Why stir it up? Let sleeping dogs lie! Maybe it was not my attractive colleague, maybe it was me! Maybe that was worse! Indecision! Indecision is a decision. I decided to walk right over to Connie and before she could say: “how was your day” I began to share the details of my colleagues red light offer. Decision made. Within seconds I felt relief, safety, and love. Although I will confess I hoped a few of Connie’s more colorful metaphors were simply that. Thanks be to God, I did not become that guy. I decided to become accountable.
Indecision is a decision.
We must decide today! Tomorrow may be too late!
What will we live for?
Who will direct our steps?
For example, last week Jeff challenged us to memorize the Fruits of the Spirit.
- If we say “oh yes, it would be nice to know the fruits of the spirit” is that the same thing as committing those nine spiritual yardsticks to memory?
- How can we live spiritual lives if we will not commit to memory what the Bible calls the fruit of a spiritual life? So the fruits of the spirit are
You could add some others: generously, forgiveness or hope. But Jeff asked us to memorize this list! Do you believe in those values? Are you decisively ordering your life around them? Let us consider what indecision about these values might mean!
- Love! What if we are indecisive about love? What if we do not decide to love? If I say tomorrow I am going to love my neighbor, then that means I will offer less than love today! If we do not commit to love then at best we are lukewarm or indifferent about love!
- Joy! What if we are indecisive about joy? Most folks would say they are decisive about joy. However, at times we would rather be right than joyful! At times we would rather win than laugh. At times we prefer sympathy to joy, or would rather carry a grudge, complain, or stay angry than be open to the healing power of joy. Indecision about joy is all about where we place our focus! This week, I was walking though the church singing a hymn to myself. A friend said “wow, you must be happy today”. The truth was I was stressed. I did not get home this week before 7pm. I was singing anyway. You might know that Ephesians 5 tells us to sing songs to Christ instead of drinking!. So I answered my friend’s statement that “You must be happy today” – “Not really. But sometimes I just sing until I get happy”
- Peace! What does our indecision about peace mean? If we are not committed to peace, what are we committed to? If I say “maybe I’ll forgive”, “maybe I’ll reach out: or “I’ll never forget” that is a decision to put off peace. Do we long for deep peace? Our culture is not very committed to peace. To live into Jesus’ words “ Blessed are the peacemakers they will be called children of God” is countercultural. …. Peace is an inner witness of the spirit of God. Peace is not the absence of tension, but a deep commitment to care for others. Peace is that sense of being able to sleep with yourself, that inner knowing you have done right. Peace is that inner longing to offer love to God and neighbor. Peace is the relief felt by hose committed to God and neighbor.
- Patience! If we can’t decide to be patient then we will live in impatience. Kindness! If we not decisive about kindness, we will sew unkindness. If we think I can be kind tomorrow then we will be unkind today.
- Goodness! If we are indecisive about doing good then we are at best amoral or un-good and likely bad. If we say, “I will do good- when I retire, when I feel better, when the kids are grown” then all our present opportunities will slip away and the world will be worse not better. If we do not use God’s gift of 1,440 minutes today to do good, we most likely will pass on doing good tomorrow!
- Faith! If we can’t decide for faithfulness today we will decide to live in what? Unfaithfulness!
- Gentleness! If we can’t commit to gentle speech today, we will speak harshly. Self-control!
- If we are uncommitted to self-control today, then we will unleash our uncontrolled attitudes upon the world. I am fairly certain that the world does not need an unfiltered Paul Purdue. If I am uncommitted to self-control then I give more of my raw-self to the world and less of Christ.
Will we decide to live a spiritual life today or wait for a better time, a clearer schedule, or a less crowded season? The question today is not “Is this a good sermon”, but “will we decide to incline our hearts to God?”
Will our hearts offer an unqualified yes hearts to God?
Indecision about the things of God is a decision to not follow God! Let s us live decisively for Almighty God. Let us live intentionally as Christ followers, so that we are not mastered by our schedule and ruled by 1,000 lesser things. Today, will you decide to order your life around the things of God? Let us commit ourselves to love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith gentleness, and self-control. Let us offer an unqualified yes to God and live the life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control God brings to life! Amen!