Monday, 13 June 2016

The issue of choice

Each day we face choices and the consequences of those choices affect our lives, In 1 Kings 21 a number of choices are made which not only affect the life of the King but also his wife's life as well.  At the end of Luke 7 (36-) Christ formulates these choices as a consequence of the unfolding drama at the dinner table.  In both stories the consequences were great for those involved and leaves us pondering as to the choices we have made and that the parish (people of Australia, Great Britain, USA, etc.) is about to make.

In the coming weeks various communities throughout the world have a number of choices to make.  These choices are going to be made by individuals and are not only going to affect the individual's life but are also going to affect the life of the community to which they belong, whether that community is as large as a country or as small as a parish.  One could almost say that at each level the choice made actually affects the world in which we live.  So how do we make our choices whether they are large or small? Do we consider the consequences of our choices or do we allow time to tell?  Is it our own needs that are the driving force behind our decision or is it the needs of others?  Do we look to our faith tradition or do we look to our political connections?  Perhaps all of these are yes / no answers for us. Yet this an extremely complacent attitude to take and is perhaps a significant indictment of our current society.  As Christians do we have the luxury of being that complacent when it comes to the decision making process that goes into the exercise of our right to choose?

The consequences of choice leave little doubt as to where Christ is.

In making our decisions, no matter what they are, we have to take into account the butterfly effect, if we are to be true to our own faith journey in Christ.  We may not be able to guess the effect that our decision is going to have on the world but we still need to consider in terms of our faith what effect the decision is going to have on the lives of those in our community.  Once our choice is made we cannot rescind it as that to will have consequences.  Having said all this we have placed ourselves in somewhat of a quandary which may incapacitate our ability to make our choice.  The two stories from Kings and from Luke illustrate the consequences of our choices most particularly when it comes to our choices made with regard to our faith journey.  In Kings the choice is a simple one.  The choice between what is coveted and what is appropriate within the Christo-Judaic faith.  Land in the times of this story was an inheritance which could not be squandered by sale to another family.  This was known and Ahab should just have bowed out of the mix but his wife having a different set of 'faith' guidelines persuaded him otherwise and then helped out in a rather unsavoury manner.  Then as we read the story the consequences come out and land up in Ahab and Jezebel's laps.

The Pharisee Simon had of course started of making inappropriate decisions in terms of the hospitality laws of the time.  Decisions that of course backfire, maybe not as spectacularly as Ahab and Jezebel, but just as effectively.  Simon comes to realise that the responsibilities of the host are important in terms of our relationships to each other and our relationship to God.  It is not the keeping of the religious laws, man made at the best of times, but the keeping of our faith laws that are important.  In denying hospitality to Christ the pharisee denies the relationship that needs to reflect our relationship with God, love of neighbour.  Christ points this out in very pointed terms as he reflects on the forgiveness of sins.  In accepting the other and the troubles that the other brings we start to forgive and so form a new relationship that is based on God's love not on our human hearts.

This is what Paul points out in no uncertain terms in Galatians (2.15-21) when he speaks of the life which Christ lives in him.  Our goal as Christians is to become as Christ, drawing closer to God and reflecting God's love into the world as Christ did in his time.  IF we are born into Christ and Christ is within us it is not our religion that we must be concerned about but our response to our neighbour and to God.  If Christ lives in us and we in Christ then it is insanity to think that we should or would neglect our neighbour either in our Parishes or in our communities.  The moment we fixate on what we want without consideration of everyone around us is the moment we slip from God.  We do not move into a win win situation but slip into a never ending story of retribution and revenge.

How does this effect our ongoing life within our communities?  Quite simply we should be making our decisions as Christians not as secular mortals who have no faith.  We make our decisions with the mind of Christ not with the mind of our own selfishness.  How we look at our various disappointments from the past and how we reconcile these into a new life depends on how much we reflect Christ.  If we cannot see the division that we will cause by our decisions than we are not aware of Christ's love in our hearts, if we cannot see Christ's actions in our votes for a new government we are not acting with Christ in our hearts, if we are so focused on ourselves and what we want we miss Christ's smile in our neighbour reaching out for relationship.  The decisions we make affect the decisions others make, let our decisions be made as Christ and others will make decisions that reflect Christ.

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