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“Einee, Meinee, Minee, mo…” and other great ways to make tough decisions

April 5, 2012

Did you ever feel like no matter what you did you were doing the wrong thing? I have been in this situation a few times. I remember coming home from college and feeling divided. I wanted to see my friends and my family, but my family also wanted to see me and my friends wanted to see me. I felt like no matter which choice I made, someone was NOT going to be happy.

I often feel like this with my kids. I try to be fair, to encourage sharing, yet I know the moment I make a choice to give someone the toy first, I am making the others extremely upset. I know that my decisions, flawed and imperfect, will have consequences (this is why I usually rely on “einee, meinee, minee, mo” to make all of my tough mommy decisions). Seriously, all kidding aside, I know that left to myself, I would make decisions flippantly and would allow my emotions to rule my actions. I can’t begin to imagine how I would have handled the different situations where Paul and Barnabas found themselves.

While I know Paul and Barnabas were fully convinced of their mission from God, I wonder if their humanness every clouded their minds for a moment, started their feet moving in the opposite direction of the Holy Spirit. I know I would have been thinking, “What? You are going to throw stones at me for telling you that you can have a relationship with the God of the Universe? Fine. I don’t need this. I will keep this information all to myself.” Paul and Barnabas kind of did this as they left towns that didn’t approve of their message (shaking the dust off of their feet). However, they kept moving onto the next town. They moved from town to town experiencing the same kind of opposition and persecution over a message that was “Good News”. Only the Spirit of God would be able to compel people to continue in these types of circumstances. And the Holy Spirit did just that.

After the first town, Paul and Barnabas had a choice to make. They knew that if they continued sharing the message, they would be pleasing God, doing what He called them to do; however, they knew that their message would most likely be met with brutality. Whom would they please?

Thankfully, they chose to please the One who will not disappoint. They listened to the Holy Spirit and walked forward, sharing the love of God as the stones were being kicked around and chosen for their torture. What is more, they decided that they would return to those towns that had marked them as dead men. They returned to those towns to encourage God’s chosen in those areas.

These kinds of choices make my everyday decisions over who gets what seem inconsequential. If I were placed in the same situations as Paul and Barnabas, would I make the choice to follow the Holy Spirit?

In our reading for this week, we were privileged to see that following the Holy Spirit isn’t just limited to sharing the good news of  Jesus. We know that the Holy Spirit needs to be followed in every decision because we so often – even in our attempt to be “good Christians” – follow our human desires for control and position. After sharing with the less than hospitable towns, what did Paul and Barnabas step into next? Nothing but division and infighting on the home team bench (sorry, I had to throw that line out there in honor of opening day). What were these fellow believers fighting about? They were fighting over whether or not Gentiles had to obey the laws God had established for the nation of Israel. Talk about missing the point of the spirit of the Law. It is almost like the Pharisees were saying, “How come they can eat pork and I can’t. I want to eat pork. Woe is me.” Seriously, the Pharisees should have just eaten the pork because their abstinence was not pleasing to God; their hearts weren’t right.

Why did God direct Luke to include this church policy conversation in the book of Acts? It seems like it might be a turn-off passage for those people who don’t want the church – a band of hypocrites – to control their actions.

I think the point of both passages (Paul and Barnabas’ revival run and the new church policy discussion)is that we cannot make the BEST decisions without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Seriously, if Christians weren’t connected by and to the Holy Spirit, we would all see that there is still just enough hell in all of us to make life on Earth unbearable for everybody. Without God’s guidance, we will seek to control and manipulate situations and others so that the outcome is best for us. But what do we know? We can’t see the future, nor can we completely predict the actions of others. God knows all things. We need His wisdom and understanding.

So what should we do in those situations where we need to make decisions like sharing Jesus, correcting a fellow believer, visiting our family, deciding which child gets the toy or answering any of life’s most important questions? Do we follow the “einee, meinee, minee, mo…” method or do we pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance?

 

 

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