I recently heard that phrase ‘Choice is a moving target’, and it really struck me.
You know how it is everything is just ticking along and then a word or phrase makes everything stop for a moment as you take in the enormity of what the words you have just heard evoke.
Choice is a moving target, our choices change – are changed by circumstances around and within us. A choice made many years ago might not be the choice we would make today. We live with the consequences of our choices, the good and the bad. We learn from past choices and those choices impact on choices which will we yet make.
Some choices are easy, some involve much soul searching or procrastination. We all make them from picking what clothes to wear, what brand of cornflakes to buy, to how we interact with those around us. It is part of our daily living. However as the world continues to turn choices we have previously made often need to be reviewed.
What struck me most about this phrase was the way it impacts on how we view that other ‘C’ word change. A word that in Church circles nearly always brings great groans and the rising of barricades to protect the choices of the past.
Indeed the more I thought on the phrase the more I recalled a book I read many years ago, ‘Jesus, The Radical’ by RT France, and so I went searching the bookshelves for it. The opening chapter begins with Nathanael asking ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ then reminds us that he was to become one of Jesus’ most devoted followers and before the first page is even over this statement is made:
That is the sort of thing that happens when Jesus is around. People find their prejudices shaken. Some of them respond by digging themselves deeper into their trenches. Others find themselves, to their amazement, abandoning the preconception of a lifetime, and they are never the same again.
Their target has moved and it brings about new choices.
Later on in his book France says:
Prudence would have dictated that Jesus should lie low at least during the sensitive period of the festival. In this particular year the atmosphere was likely to be even more highly charged than usual, for some sort of patriotic rising had been crushed recently enough for some of its leaders to be still in prison awaiting execution. The authorities would have had reason to keep a careful watch, even without the arrival of a Galilean preacher with a record of attracting enthusiastic crowds.
And yet he came.
Jesus made choices, choices that often flew against reason, against tradition, against the ideas common of the day. He showed that the choices made by previous generations, where no longer the best choices to be making. He taught that choices were to be made in the light of God’s will not human desire. He showed how our choices impact on others for both good and bad.
Jesus moved the target and it continues to move as we better understand the implications of what Jesus came to teach us. We shouldn’t be afraid to review our choices, to change what we once thought was the way to go in the light of a moving target of understanding. Is that really radical? It shouldn’t be, it should be a sign of a maturity of faith, a humility of how much we have still to learn and a reassurance of God’s love being active and working in the world and in us.