Decisions determine the directions of our lives. Some of the most important decisions are made early in life when perhaps we are least able to do so, as we have not had much experience to make us wiser. Many of us were young people with Christadelphian parents and brought up in the Truth, and in that context faced the greatest challenge, whether to be baptised into Christ and be his disciples or not. This is the most important decision of our lives as it affects every other aspect, it predicates who we will marry, what  career we will choose, our friends, values, morals  and our aspirations.

“I am the way, the truth and the life”

Those of us who have chosen to follow Christ have  weighed up the choices – we believed that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed prophet, priest and king, the only begotten Son of God, according to his  claims and Scripture. This is a life-long commitment  leading in the Father’s mercy to eternal life. No other choice we could have made could have  rested on such sure foundations nor offered such a  wonderful prize.

The failure of young people to make this commitment  can have disastrous results. It’s so easy to  become ‘stuck in a rut’, to be influenced by worldly  entertainment, to be ensnared in fleshly lusts from  which it is nigh impossible to extricate oneself. This  is why “friendship [with] the world is enmity with  God” (James 4:4). Never before has there been a time  so alluring to the young – a time which promises so  much – but the ‘pleasures’ are specious, transient,  and will leave those so led astray with ashes in their  mouths. Life is a ‘long time’, and to leave the straight  and narrow path for the broad way of the multitude,  will in the end, bring remorse, regret and ruin.

Solomon had good advice for the young when  he said, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and  let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and  walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of  thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things  God will bring thee into judgment” (Eccl 11:9).

The Bible and life’s biggest questions

The Bible is God’s Word, true, inspired and infallible.  It explains for us in a satisfactory way the big  questions that naturally we would want answered,  like: Is there a God? Has He a plan with man and  the earth? What does He want me to do to please  Him? What is His character? And there are others.  It is not possible to answer these questions  without a knowledge of the Bible. The Bible gives  us a progressive revelation of God’s purpose. The  three great promises involving the coming “seed”,  find their confirmation in the birth of the Son of  God (Rom 15:8).

By reading the Gospel records of Jesus’ life, his  teachings, parables, and miracles we can learn more  about his Father, our Creator. Of him the Apostle  Paul says, “In whom are hid all the treasures of  wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). This is an unqualified  and absolute statement. It means that there  is no wisdom in any course of life that ignores him,  or leaves him out of account; there is no essential  truth outside of him.

What did our Lord say about choices?

In one of his most notable statements on how to  live and make choices he said, “But seek ye first  the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and  all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt  6:33). Here he rationalises what our choice, our  priority, should be. It boils down to two things: the  Kingdom of God and His (God’s) righteousness.  So if we want to enter the Kingdom of God our  present life should have this as its focus: we must  learn about it, talk about it, preach it and have our  hopes set in it. And what about “his righteousness”,  that is, God’s righteousness, and ourselves? When  we believe and are baptised into Christ our sins  are forgiven and we are accounted righteous in the  eyes of God: as Paul put it in his own case, “that I  may win Christ, And be found in him, not having  my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that  which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness  which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:8–9). In the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ the Lord pronounced a  blessing on those who hungered and thirsted after  righteousness, but warned that righteousness in  God’s eyes was not that of the scribes and Pharisees,  based on law-keeping (Matt 5:6, 20). The Lord set  out the attitudes and actions that are acceptable to  God. Seeking “first the Kingdom of God, and his  righteousness” epitomises the disciple’s life.

Two paths and two destinations

The Bible has much to say about the consequences  of our actions and what will befall us. It does this  in no uncertain terms so that we are left in no  doubt. The whole of Deuteronomy is devoted to  exhorting Israel not to forsake Yahweh and turn  to other gods. “I call heaven and earth to record  this day against you, that I have set before you life  and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose  life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut  30:19). Joshua likewise set before the people their  choices in stark terms: “choose you this day whom  ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers  served … but as for me and my house, we will serve  Yahweh” (Josh 24:15). Jeremiah also appealed to  his generation to surrender and “serve the king of  Babylon, and live: wherefore should this city be laid  waste?” (27:17). It is God’s desire that His people  should live: He has no pleasure in the death of the  wicked. In another beautiful statement in Jeremiah  He says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says  the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give  you a future and a hope” (RSV Jer 29:11).

Proverbs also warns us by drawing our attention  to the end of those “whose ways are crooked,  and they froward [RSV devious] in their paths”;  “the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the  transgressors shall be rooted out” (2:15, 22).

At the end of Luke 9 we have the record of  ‘the three enquirers’. Clearly they were pondering  the cost of following Jesus as his disciples. The  first said, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever  thou goest” (v57). It was a large, perhaps impulsive  claim. Did he really comprehend the enormity of  the commitment? Reminding him that foxes have  holes, and birds, nests, but the Son of Man has no  permanent place of rest, he underlines the extent  of such a commitment.

Another was invited to follow Jesus, but he prioritised  burying his father (v59). Important as such  a duty might be, it had to be put in second place;  preaching the kingdom of God transcended it.

The third expressed the desire to follow, but  he, too, made what on the surface appeared to be  a perfectly reasonable request: “let me first go bid  them farewell, which are at home at my house”  (v61). After all, had not Elijah permitted Elisha  so to do? (1 King 19:20). But a greater than Elijah  had come: Jesus replied, “No man, having put his  hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the  kingdom of God” (v62).

These answers of Jesus graphically tell us how  important it is to put the things of God first in  our lives. Being a disciple of Jesus is the greatest  honour and privilege in the world. All other callings,  interests, occupations, pale into insignificance  by comparison: they fade, are temporal, having no  eternal dimension (2 Cor 4:18).

Age can help us see more clearly

When young, handsome, energetic and able-bodied,  life holds out many prizes we may be eager to  grasp. Careers and goals are pursued and ambitions  achieved. They can take up a lot of mind-space, time  and energy. However with the passage of time what  was once pleasurable can become a burden, and as  a consequence values change. What I am saying is  that years help us to work out what is important  and what is not. Without the hope of the Kingdom  and eternal life, old-age would be a scary, daunting  prospect. So many have nothing to look forward to  and are looking down a dark hole.

How different it is for those who love God and  His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: for them there  is the prospect of glory, honour and immortality  (Rom 2:7). It sometimes takes a long time to realise  that life’s pursuits apart from Christ are vanity; as  Solomon said, “vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl  1:2). Also after ending his quest for the ‘chief good’  for man he said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the  whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man. For God  shall bring every work into judgment, with every  secret thing, whether it be good, or … evil” (Eccl  12:13–14).

“One thing is needful”

One touching incident in our Lord’s life crystallised  the whole issue of priorities. Mary was sitting at  the feet of our Lord in rapt attention, letting not  a word fall to the ground. Her sister Martha was busy serving the needs of all. She ventured to draw  the Lord’s attention to her need, and Mary’s failure  to render due help. The Lord’s answer is notable,  “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled  about many things: But one thing is needful: and  Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not  be taken away from her” (Luke 10:39–42). Martha  needed to learn that what we can do for Christ is  not as important as to recognise what he can do for  us. In the circumstances, with the Son of God, the  greatest teacher ever, in the home, Mary had made  the right choice.

Here is a lesson for us amidst the hustle and  bustle of busy lives. Hearing the voice of the Master,  sitting at his feet listening is the “one thing that is  needful”: all else is secondary.