People make decisions that affect their lives everyday. Some choices are major and some minor. Major life decisions are usually made at pinnacle moments. I think this is where the confusion comes in. For example, someone has a heart attack, which many people see as an opportunity to correct dietary or lifestyle issues like smoking or drinking. When you have a child we start taking health and finances more seriously. Other things like New Years comes along and we make commitments to ourselves.
Now, lets face it: some “choices” may be more extreme than others. Decisions shape your life or alter its path which can be a great thing.
We all know the peaks and pitfalls that come along with decisions. For example, you decide to quit smoking and are doing real well until that party where a buddy lights up. The allure of that powerful chemical reminder on your brain is often hard to resist, and, “BAM!” You slip and have a smoke. Regret sets in and you’re back on the wagon in hopes that those moments will be anomalies.
This is a pattern for people everywhere. No matter the circumstances we are all prone to these behavioural slips. We often refer to this as the “human condition.”
Does slipping make us “bad” people? No, I would think not. Being born a into a fallen world actually makes us inherently bad, contrary to popular world views on this subject. We have that stripe of evil that runs through us, but God provides us with a conscience so that we may seek to be good.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 NKJV
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the
things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also
bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else
excusing them. Romans 2:14-15 NKJV
It’s interesting when we do make a lifestyle choice that God is actually at the centre of it, whether we follow Him or not. You see, he gave us a conscience to guide us through this broken and fallen world. Naturalism says that putting us in a perfect environment would make us all good. I think we see the flaw in that theory, just by looking around us.
Why then is faith different than lifestyle choices? It’s simple yet complex because they mimic each other. I will use myself as an example. I pretended for years to be a “Christian”. I threw some scripture around and claimed a moral high ground on many occasions. I used Christendom as a lifestyle but not as a life direction driven by conviction and faith. I used the guilt in my life as a measure of my faith. Guilt makes us look for methods of appeasement making it look like faith.
It is hard to let go of guilt and not let it be your guide. It causes us to make decision based more on emotion than fact and logic. Faith in Christ calls us to take all of these things into consideration. Our emotions need to be seasoned with logic and common sense, all balanced or else you tend to make choices that are impossible to keep and you look for reasons to fail. We are, after all, great “post justifiers”.
This being said, when I actually came to faith in Christ it really had very little to do with any decision I made. Seriously, do you go out and look for ways to make people not like you or look for ways to be persecuted by those you love?
For me, I had a moderately extreme conversion moment. God was the last thing on my mind when I found myself kneeling at the throne of grace. He literally stopped me on the side of the road and as clear as any
conversation I have ever had, He said it is time to stop running! This was my Paul on the road to Damascus moment. (Acts 9:1-19)
I did not have a moment that morning where I said, “I’m gonna start being a real Christian today.” I didn’t get bad news from my doctor and say, “Okay, Jesus things are starting to suck so I think its time to give you a
He stopped me and before I said the words, before I bowed and prayed for Him to come into my life and change me, I knew He was going to make some changes. The difference was that I was at peace with that. I accepted that whatever path I was on, it was no longer the direction of my life.
Lifestyle changes are “Us making a change”. Coming to faith in Christ is “Him making the change.”
Most people can’t or won’t understand that. That is okay because they need to come to that moment in their own life to truly grasp the change that Jesus makes. We can only hope all come to the knowledge and saving
grace of Christ and actually become a new creation, not just experience a modified lifestyle.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
This does not mean we don’t slip like those that just make a lifestyle choice. It means when we slip we are reminded by the Holy Spirit of God of our folly and convinces us to repent and turn from such behaviour. On the personal choice side of things it’s guilt that drives one to either make an excuse or find a way to justify one’s actions. Not that the Christian isn’t often guilty of that same behaviour, but we know we can try and justify all we want and it doesn’t make a difference. God’s rule, not ours, applies in ALL situations.
To summarize, lifestyle choices can be great. Do not confuse them with faith and faith-based decisions because the driving force behind both are different.
Thank you for reading and I hope this had an impact in some way on your life.
May the God of all peace and understanding bless you and keep you, should you not know Him, may He come into your life and make lasting change in your heart and only then will those choices become eternal minded
decisions not temporal ones.