Dichotomies can be tough. Should I eat what I want or what I know will be good for my overall health? Should I spend my hour reading a book or watching the Braves? I can’t do both! These choices between two competing options may seem superficial, but not all such choices are. In fact, the first dilemma in recorded human history comes in the form of a dichotomy between two choices. Will Eve obey the voice of the serpent or the voice of the Creator God? We all know how that one turned out. We’ve been dealing with the consequences of that wrong decision ever since.
The New Testament often presents us with dichotomies in presenting the way we are to approach the Christian life. There is always an either/or decision to be made for those who follow King Jesus. Eve’s battle is not over. In one sense, this decision is made once and for all the moment we decide to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, for certainly this momentous decision redirects the entire course of our lives. But in a different sense, we have to keep making this decision daily, and sometimes—even often—we revert back to foolishly listening to the voice with a lisp. For example, the Bible situates our existence within the story of a series of battles. We are constantly having to choose between approaching life according to what is visible or what is invisible (2 Cor. 4:18), the present or the future (2 Cor. 4:17), the word of the cross or the competing word of worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18ff.), the kingdom of God or the kingdoms of this world (Col. 1:13), living by sight or living by faith (2 Cor. 5:7), longing for temporal riches now or living for eternal riches in the future (Matt. 6:19-21).
All of these battles are really different ways to say the same thing. The main question that exists underneath all of these various portrayals is this: Will you and I live by God’s word alone or by the word of an alternative source? Will we interpret the story according to God’s wisdom or will we come up with a different story altogether? God says that the way the world appears is not always the way the world is. God says that there is far more to the story than the present moment and that death does not have the final say. God says that the climax of his own self-revelation is Jesus Christ crucified and that this event, in combination with Jesus’ resurrection, is the turning point in history. God says that his kingdom has come in Christ and will be consummated upon Christ’s return. No earthly kingdom compares. God calls us to trust his word over what our eyes see, and he tells us that the reward for this brand of faithful living is an eternal inheritance under his reign that puts anything achieved or attained in this life to shame. Our world has a different opinion about all of these matters, and we can encounter that opinion through a myriad of mediums at virtually every moment of our lives. In other words, this is not a choice you can easily avoid.
So which will it be? Will you choose to live this day according to God’s word? Will you decide tomorrow to shun the pathetic forms of wisdom that this world offers in favor of the word of the cross? Don’t assume that because you made this decision once, you never have to revisit the issue again. At any given point in our lives, we have capitulated and given ground to ways of thinking and living that oppose the wise ways of our Creator and Redeemer. However, don’t assume that because you made the wrong choice yesterday, there is no hope for today. The beauty of the gospel is that there is always grace available in Christ for those who repent and believe. As long as you are alive it is never too late to repudiate the empty version that this world offers in favor of the beautiful story God is telling that culminates in Christ crucified, resurrected, and reigning. This battle is the most important battle you will ever fight, because every other battle is rooted in this one. Everything is at stake. Which voice will you obey?