“And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21).
ELIJAH DID NOT PULL ANY PUNCHES. Challenging the people to choose between the worship of God and the worship of Baal, he mocked their wishy-washy attitude: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” Or as the ERV so colorfully paraphrases it: “You must decide what you are going to do. How long will you keep jumping from one side to the other?”
In this book, we’ve been discussing the importance of obeying the gospel of Christ — both the “how” and the “why” of that obedience. I hope I’ve made it clear that the commitment to follow Christ is not one to be entered into lightly. The question of whether the gospel is true is extremely — indeed, eternally — important and should be considered carefully. But sooner or later, a decision has to be made. If you’ve seen that the gospel is true, and you know what the New Testament teaches about how to obey it, the question is unavoidable: What do you choose to do? You can’t waver between obeying the gospel and rejecting it any more than Israel could waver between God and Baal. You must decide.
When we’re faced with momentous decisions, we sometimes think we have decided when, in reality, we have not. Often, we think we’ve decided when all we’ve done is congratulate ourselves on knowing what we should do, thinking, “I’ll do it as soon as a good opportunity presents itself.” In an age that worships feelings (substituting feelings for thinking and even for action), we suppose that we’ve made a choice simply because we feel a certain way. But ponder this statement by Eric Greitens, with which I agree: “Remember that deciding is not doing, and wanting is not choosing. Transformation will take place not because of what you decide you want, but because of what you choose to do.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them.” The weak vacillate and procrastinate. But the people of strong character decide. And they know that backing away is always the wrong decision.
“Not to decide is to decide” (Harvey Cox).