MAKING PERSONAL DECISIONS: A GUIDE FOR CHRISTIANS A summary of Pastor Bob’s message last Sunday, edited and prepared by Jackson Silvanik

Last Sunday, we took a closer look at a familiar story – a story that’s been around for a long time that describes the earliest days of the first family on earth. We saw how their journey culminated in the Age of Cain – when Cain declared to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” though we already knew the answer. We met Seth, born to replace Abel, and we see that he ushered in a new era, a time when people began to call on the name of the Lord, when they began to pray and live for a higher purpose.

One of the important things that I like to do when reading these old stories is ask myself two questions. 

Firstly, what is the story being told? The Bible is a remarkable literary work, and often, simply reading the story at face value is a spiritual experience. 

Secondly, though, I look for one big thing: the universal truth lurking beneath the surface. One of the great gifts of scripture is that it’s always giving us more, and in this case, we have a chance to revel in the power of being God’s children and learn more about the reason that we’re all here – what exactly does God want from us?

Somewhere in the midst of the story that I’m reading, I eventually find it: my Jesus verse. It’s the point of the story that the lightbulb flickers on for me, the reader. The big idea, the main takeaway – but most importantly, the central question. Whenever Jesus works through the Old Testament, we learn about what Jesus is doing. And one thing we notice about Jesus is that he’s always expanding. Expanding on previous teachings, expanding the Kingdom of God, expanding the purpose that we’re here for. 

In the story of Cain and Abel, the big question comes in Chapter 4, verse 9 – am I my brother’s keeper? Cian is not. 

But are we? That’s our big universal question. Ask yourself – are you your brother’s keeper? 

Jesus takes it a step further, though. He expands on it, as always. And Jesus answers it in a way that’s even bigger and grander than God did. We’re here to love our neighbors as ourselves

Read this dialogue from Mark 12:

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

It gets at the very core of what it means to be a believer. What are we here to do? What does God want from little old me? What is the most important thing that I can do for the Kingdom? 

He wants us to give our free will over to Him. When you come to love your neighbor as yourself, you’re following God’s will for you. You’re engaging in the purpose that the One True God has bestowed upon us. What happens when you invite Christ into your life? Jesus comes to live inside you, to enlighten your spirit and soul. Your body isn’t just yours anymore, it’s part of the Kingdom of God. 

Because of this transformation, your body and life are no longer your own. They’re God’s, and you live for God’s will. You live to serve others just as much as yourself. 

You’re the keeper of everyone in this world!

Therefore, your decisions are certainly personal – but now they’re personal in a new way. You’re obligated to do what’s right for everyone around you. But not just the ones you sit next to in church, or around the table with at dinner. You’re called to love everyone, and particularly the ones that might not seem to be asking for your love. 

Jesus is challenging us to adapt and embrace a new theory of love. He wants us to love every person we encounter, in every situation, in every form that it may take. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to preserve your own life? What about your brother’s and sister’s?

When I have to make a decision in my own life, I take my time. Yes — I think about the pro’s and con’s. But because there’s always tension between me and God about what the right decision is, I always turn to God. And stick with God.  

You have the right to make any decision that you want. When it comes to getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, it’s your call. We can just show you what the scripture has taught us. Ultimately, it’s your free will. 

If you are a follower of Jesus, however, you are called to use that free will for God’s purpose. And He wants you to take care of not just yourself, but everyone around you. He wants an entire community where people put others first. He wants a world where people love each other unconditionally. 

So, when you make that personal decision, it’s not just personal. Jesus is our Lord; we follow his way – not our own. Our decisions are based on our love for God and our love for our neighbor. 

God will tell you what to do, but first you must be willing to listen to what God is really saying. 

Love your neighbor as yourself,

<>< Pastor Bob