It’s an oxymoronic — or maybe just moronic — psychological phrase that has crept its way into Christian thought. We’ve been told it’s the solution to codependent relationships, another psychophrase bandied about more frequently than words like grace, mercy, charity, patience, or perseverance, and Christians instruct one another that when people make bad choices, well, they’ve got to live with them, and it’s part of our tough love stance to make them see the light.
(I’m not sure what that light is, in this particular case, but I’d guess it has little to do with the True Light of the World.)
Wisdom from Facebook
Recently, I found a meme wandering through my Facebook account, from new age guru Greg Braden:
“Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument, or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice that you make. Period.”
Gosh this sounds tough and cool and hip and witty and wise, and to a certain extent, it expresses truth:
Proverbs 1: 7 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Fools make bad choices, not because they don’t read the right self-help books, but because the don’t listen to the One Person who is Wise:
“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.
“A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.” (Proverbs 14: 15-16)
We All Make Foolish Choices
Read through Proverbs and you get a strong desire, pretty fast, to not be a fool, because things don’t look too good for them. Humans being humans, however, we all, at some point — before we were Christians and realistically after we are Christians — make bad choices. Some of these choices cause collateral damage in many lives, other choices wound only us, but all of them are regrettable and — This Is Life — result in consequences we have to wade through.
We get frustrated with whining, whimpering, grumbling people who do stupid things and don’t want to live through the results of them. Years of society focusing upon self-image, self-esteem, self-assurance, and self-regard (a message preached as strongly in Christian circles as it is in secular ones) have left us irritated with people’s unwillingness to accept the consequences for their actions, so when a quote like Braden’s shows up, it’s not surprising that it’s reposted by Christians.
“Yeah! Tough love, at last,” we tell ourselves.
Mercy Trumps Judgment
Our disgruntlement and sense of vindication is understandable, but before we get too adamant about people getting what they deserve, we might consider that judgment is not complete without mercy, and some of us — notably every one of us who has submitted our life to Christ — have benefited from understanding, compassion, and mercy that we decidedly do not deserve:
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful, Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2: 12)
Yes, there are consequence to all of our choices, good and bad. Any woman who has stared at the plus sign on a pregnancy test knows that the outcome of one, single choice is a lifetime reminder of that moment. Watching one of these lifetime reminders, 18-months-old at the time, shunned by good Christian people at a potluck, I thought,
“It’s bad enough that they’ll never forgive the mother of the child. But what did the child do, other than be born?”
God Rules, by God’s Rules
In answer to the question in the title, your choices will affect your life, but be encouraged, when you let Him, God rules your life: He brings good out of bad (Romans 8: 28), and while the process of getting to the right place may be painful, God’s desire isn’t to see you squirm, but to repent, and follow Him.
As Christians, it’s important that we seek truth and guide our lives by good sources, and while seminar speakers can pump out the Facebook memes, we might think twice, or three or four times, before we repost these statements, or worse, adopt them as maxims to our lives.
Secular thought, seminar thought, New Age thought — it dances lightly around the truth but stomps on the fullness of wisdom because it does not, and will not, acknowledge the existence of God, and any wisdom that excludes God, is not wisdom but witticism.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1: 25)
How’s that for a Facebook meme?
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I like a funny saying as much as the next person. I just take a moment after I laugh to ask myself, “Is this true? Are my eyes so blinded by the mis-information and dis-information of the society in which I live, to accept partial truth as complete?”
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