In today’s Bible reading, we see that a majority of those voting said it would be best to sail, hoping to make it to Phoenix, a harbor on the island of Crete before Winter. (Acts 27:12)
It seems obvious that the Roman commander and the ship’s owner were more interested in efficiency than safety. And they paid little attention to a prophetic word from Paul.
If you’ve been around church very long, you’ve probably heard that the majority rules. At least in Baptist circles, a simple majority can dictate everything. That can be a good thing. But like in the case in today’s Bible reading, it can also be a very bad thing. Normally we assume that because there is a majority consensus, we know what we are supposed to do.
But is that how people in the Bible determined God’s will? As I type this, I can’t think of a single time the early church went with a plan simply because more people voted one way than another. When I think of the ways the early church made decisions, just about every time — if there was a vote at all — the vote wasn’t just a majority; it was unanimous. But it should be noted that even a unanimous decision can be counter to God’s plan.
The normal way the early church made decisions was through prayer and immediate obedience. When Paul planned to go one way, he might have a dream in the middle of the night, wake up in the morning and go in a different direction.
But today’s reading is a classic case in point that not everyone was seeking God’s plan. Some people had other motives than to glorify God. Some had selfish motives. And there’s the rub when it comes time to make decisions. Not everyone has pure motives and pure goals in mind.
So how is a church — or individual Believers — supposed to go about determining God’s will? First off, pray. Second, pray. Seek God’s plan. Seek God’s timing. Seek God’s way. Trust the leadership that God has put in place. And last, pray. And then pray some more.
Only with a yielded, unified heart can a church hope to successfully move with God’s agenda in God’s timing.
Yes, bad decisions will be made. But with a humble, yielded heart a church can seek God’s heart and make adjustments as he leads.