Life seems to be crowded with decisions, even those that we take when we think that we have no options and are just doing what we have to do. Jesus took decisions too, judging by the Gospel stories, and he retired frequently to the hills to check out whether he was still on track and what to do next. Do we rush into decisions rather too hastily sometimes?
Some decisions that we take have irrevocable influence on our lives: choosing to adopt children rather than add to the World’s population, for instance; training as an accountant rather than as a doctor; or saying “Yes!”, when “No!” would have been wiser, in so many circumstances. It is easy to look back and be wise after the decision time has passed.
For Jesus, the decisions that we know about often involved him in conflict with the authorities when he thought it right to go against the accepted wisdom of the time: healing on the Sabbath; discussing important issues with women; putting children first; and taking his mission to Gentiles. I wonder whether we are brave enough to challenge conventional thinking and strike out on our own?
It was his decision not to challenge Pilate or the Sanhedrin when they brought him to trial that puzzles me most. Surely, he could have used his prodigious powers of argument to change their minds? It almost seems that he considered his work on Earth to be completed, and his own life as an insignificant factor in the equation. What value do we place on our own lives?
Our day-by-day decisions include a constant stream of opportunities to spend money, on ourselves, on our children, on other people’s children who are hungry or unjustly imprisoned, on food that may not be good for us, on clothing that we may not need; an endless stream of decisions. How should we approach them?
John Wesley was severe in his advice. With two silver teaspoons in Bristol and another in London, he judged himself rich enough at a time when so many had insufficient to eat. He required similar standards of his followers. How do we measure up?
I think that the worst decisions that we make occur just when we think we have no option. To continue patterns of spending, patterns of living, ways of speaking to people, are all decisions that we take unconsciously. We constantly choose the people we associate with. We choose where to walk, whether to pick up litter, whether to speak to this or that stranger. Even continuing a standing order is a decision.
Maybe we should institute regular reviews of our, well, regular habits and actions. Those parts of our lives that count most are easiest to ignore: do our regular outgoings reflect the importance of the recipients to us? Do our circles of friends reflect what we consider to be important about society? Do our regular activities reflect what we consider to be important about life?
Decisions, decisions, decisions!