March 9, 2011 - Decisions & Directives
Jeremy D. Scott
A friend of mine recently put some words from Dr. Eric Mason on his Facebook status: “The word ‘application’ is not in scripture. We use that so we don't have to talk about obedience.” Pastor Mason is on to something, regardless of whether or not this cover-up is intentional (most likely, it is not intentional at all).
Most followers of Christ appreciate the understanding that it is a decision (we “choose”) to follow Christ. Many of these further appreciate the understanding that with each subsequent day, we make a multitude of decisions, all of which are made in the hope that they too “follow” Christ. And thus, whether our lives follow Christ’s is up to us and the choices we make each day. At all times, the first step to following Christ comes in my decision to do so.
We often focus on Jonah’s difficulty in making the right decision in responding to God’s call, and rightfully so. The storyline is simply illustrative (“applicable” even!): Choose not to follow God’s call, and you very well could find yourself in the dark and undesirable places. Yet, we much less often note the difficult ending of Jonah’s story found in our passage for today: Our choosing does not mandate our directive in any given situation. God is still yet God and we are still yet servant.
Christ understood this well and his life on earth exemplified it. If I were Christ, having done exactly as God had asked, I might have expected to end up in places more glorious than the dome of death that was Golgotha. And even if we jump to the victory of the empty tomb, we still must note the path that first goes through the cross (and hence, we walk together each year through this season of Lent).
As we watch Jesus walk to the cross this Lenten season, we would do well to note his resolute decision to follow the path set in front of him. He strayed not either from the call of God before him, nor the corollary events, surprises, treatments, or difficulties that arose from that call.
Jonah had certain understandings of God and what God would do. I’m not sure that we can escape these. But when we find that God’s directive is different than our own, our response - either in action or in attitude - is made up of our choice. We can pout with the worms and the dying plants, or we can conclude our prayer with “nonetheless, God, not my will but Thine.”
God, I pray this day - the beginning Lent - that as I make decisions, they be in response to your directive: following your good and perfect will.