Monday, September 28, 2009

Too Large To Do What Is Right

On Sunday, September 27, 2009, I preached a sermon titled "Too Large To Do What Is Right." In that sermon, I spoke of the difference between policy and tactic. Policy is a statement related to how decisions are to be reached. Policy is broad brush and seeks to address every situation that arises in a similar manner. Tactic is the engagement of each situation with intentionality and thought to determine the outcome. Tactic requires an investment of thought and time.

Christian decision making is not as easy as saying, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." Christian decision making requires a process of discernment. Each situation is intentionally addressed. Christian decision making requires time.

I raised concern about structures of organizations that are limited in the amount of time available for decision making. The structures are typically large structures, with many employees and many constituents. In lieu of room for tact, these structures are obliged to decide via policy.

I gave the example of Zero Tolerance Policies. In education, a 1st grade child who accidentally picks up a butter knife with his school books on the way out the door is held to the same consquences as a 16 year old who takes a hunting knife to school intending harm to another student. Fred Craddock, preaching at the Chautauqua Institute, claimed that Zero Tolerance Policies were morally and ethically lazy. Policies can become lazy if they do not demand thought and time for decision making.

As Christians, we are in the world, but not of the world. Time is a gift for the believer. Our faith leads us to conclude that we are not "running out of time." All around us may crumble and fall, but that is not the end. We await the fullness of the kingdom of God.

In anticipation of the kingdom of God, we are called to be a discerning people. First, this involves the need for intentional, difficult decision making. Second, we must attend to what we hear from large institutions to determine if their promises are good for us. Third, while personal responsibility is necessary in ethics, their is also communal responsibility for large institutions.

This sermon concluded our series on forgiveness.