On a good day, our most difficult choice may be, “Paper or plastic?”, or “Would you like fries with that?” Other days, we have to make more serious decisions, like where to invest our money, or whether to move to a different part of the country.
Life-changing decisions include saying, “I do” to a spouse. Certainly, choosing to follow Jesus is the most significant decision we can make. Deciding how to invest our life for Him afterwards can be a pretty big deal, too.
The Bible mentions people who had a decision to make. Even if their circumstances were different, some of their choices weren’t that much different from those that we are presented with.
For instance, Joshua challenged the people of Israel to choose whether they would serve the true God, or idols (whether from the land they had come from, or the land they were in at the time).
“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:14-15 NASB
Whether you live in the Middle East (like these Israelites), or somewhere else, there is always a choice in this world between following God, or following anything else. This isn’t just a religious affiliation, or what we call ourselves – it is the ultimate choice, either to follow Him or to follow something else.
Another example comes from the New Testament, when two of Jesus’ disciples were telling people about Jesus. After being taken into custody, they were told not to speak of Jesus. Rather than conceding, Peter and John offered their captors the freedom of making their own choices, but they didn’t let intimidation change their imperative to share what they have observed.
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:18-20 NASB
See also Acts 5:27-32 for a similar message from the apostles, after they were miraculously released from prison.
Is the good news about Jesus Christ just something you’re glad to have learned, or is it something so incredible, vibrant, and critical to those around you that you can’t help talking about Him? Peter and John were standing in front of a fairly influential group, but they saw that their testimony transcended the directive that this group was trying to impose on them.
In the same way, we have choices – both who to serve privately, and who to serve publicly. For our sake, I hope that we’ll make the right one. After all, Jesus made it clear that following Him was more than just good intentions:
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38 NASB