Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why Christians Make Such Stupid Choices

There seems to be an epidemic among Christians who are victims of devastating problems which could have easily been avoided by just making a better decision. You probably know a professing Christian who has made a bonehead choice in a critical area of their life who is now paying the price.  Maybe you have. Everyone makes mistakes but it seems Christians have the propensity to make head scratching choices that seem to run counter to their values and upbringing. 

One of the most crucial aspects of living the abundant life Christ offers us is to be able to navigate through the relational minefields that this world throws our way. Christians should have a big advantage because we have a guide (Holy Spirit), and a road map (the Bible) that helps us make the right critical choices. So why do so many Christians make appallingly poor decisions in the most important areas of their lives? I can give you to two simple reasons:
1) They confuse their emotions and selfish desires with God's will.
2) They fail to consult, trust, or follow God's instruction guide. 

I recall taking a mission team white water rafting at the end of a mission trip down the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge in Colorado.  During one stretch of the river, there were photographers working for the rafting company stationed on the banks to take pictures of the teams navigating the river. This was an area of the river with some heavy rapids and our raft plunged into a rather deep falls with everyone except two of the seven in the raft being thrown out of the raft, including our guide. 

The guide recovered quickly and was back in the raft to rescue the others who were spilled from the boat.  Everyone ended up safe and sound back in the raft but it was quite an experience. When we finished our trip and were escorted to the sales office where we returned our gear, the rafting company had developed photos displayed on the wall that you could purchase of the teams of white water rafters navigating through that treacherous stretch of river.

When we compared our photo with the others, we could see that our raft was on the far right side of the river, while all the others were traveling on the left side.  The difference was that our raft went directly into what the guide said was "the hole". Our guide, for whatever reason, directed us into a rapid that none of the other rafts went into. Maybe he thought we could handle it.  Or perhaps he couldn't correct the course that we rookie rafters had directed. Whoever's fault it was, our guide had to pay for the mistake. He said when the guides are thrown out of a raft, they have to buy dinner for all the other guides. The picture above was taken moments before all but two of us were thrown out of the raft.

This white water trip down the Arkansas river is a great illustration of life. There will always be obstacles that will cause rapids, or turbulence in our life, making its passage difficult. We can allow the river to take us wherever it wills by just going with the flow and suffering the consequences. Or, we can navigate it by using our instruments to steer clear of the bigger rapids, using our map to know the safest course and change direction to avoid the danger.  Most of the time, when we don't put effort into steering our raft, the river will naturally take us into the most dangerous rapids.  

Unlike the irreligious, Christians are susceptible to allowing the river to take them wherever, believing God is directing the raft and in control so there is no need to steer.  And we can mistakenly think the Holy Spirit is telling me to go full steam ahead when it's really our own libido.  When we crash, it seems logical to blame God, the one who was steering.  "I can't believe God would allow this to happen!"

But in reality, God has given us His instruction manual and map (Bible) on how to successfully navigate life. (2 Timothy 3:16). Yes, God is with us and wants the best for us, but just as a parent doesn't control his or her adult child, God doesn't micro manage our lives. As we consult our map which teaches us well how to navigate the river and put into action the counsel from it, we should be able to avoid the "holes" that could sink us or throw us out of the boat. There are some parts of the river with rapids we can't avoid and we must take them head on but there are many areas of turbulence in life that can and should be avoided. This is a major part of discipleship, understanding what God wants us to do through His instruction guide and maturing to be able to identify the rapids of life, to know how to navigate and make correct decisions. Isn't it ironic that Christians who think they are being more spiritual actually are being irresponsible?

It could be just a funny quirk to the Christian life but this faulty theology is very common in the Christian culture and unique to Christians.  And it seems to surface mostly in the major decisions of life like who to marry or where to work or live. We don't play the God card in the insignificant decisions of life, thinking God is not so concerned with them.  But when it comes to the major stuff, we tend to turn it over to God, turn off our brain and just hope for the best.  

For example, Mary starts dating Tom and is sexually and emotionally attracted to him. However, Tom is not a Christian and his values are distinctively different than Mary's. Yet Mary, thinking God is in control of her life, continues to pursue the relationship, ignoring the warning signs, confident that God has brought Tom into her life. She doesn't really concern herself with taking her time to get to know him or doing any serious work on their relationship. God's brought me the perfect man and to reject him would be a violation of God's will.  

She becomes pregnant two months into their relationship and Tom decides to dump her for another conquest. Mary is upset with God and cannot understand why God would bring this calamity upon her.  She doesn't see that she is the one responsible for her predicament. 
Mary allowed the river to take her into a very dangerous rapid without following her "map", without really trying to steer away from trouble.

God never contradicts the principles of His "map and instruction guide".  So, if Mary had consulted and followed the map, she would have known it was unwise to be "unequally yoked", to be intimately involved with someone that does not share her values and not to be sexually active before marriage. This is a simple illustration but it is a predicament that many young Christians find themselves in. You can understand a non-believer making this mistake, but someone who should know better?

In today's culture, the river seems to be running faster and more prone to taking us into even more devastating rapids. Therefore, it is even more critical that believers rely upon God's guidance through His book and listening to His voice from a perspective of righteousness and selflessness.

I've written more about how to choose wisely in my ebook, The Art Of Choosing A Mate.  

What are some other examples that you have seen where Christians tend to make bad decisions based on faulty theology? 

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