Uncommon Sense


Acts 15:28  For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision — and ours — to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things

How often does our common sense lead us to Jesus’ uncommon actions?


After leaving the Navy as a computer analyst, Grace Hopper developed Flow-Matic that would later evolve into COBAL, the first well-known computer programming language. Born in 1906, she was a peculiar child dismantling several alarm clocks at age seven to understand their inner-workings. When her mother discovered what she was doing, she restricted Grace to one only for experimentation. She was an unconventional innovator and leader who would later keep a wall clock in her office that ran counter-clockwise. No wonder she’s the one to whom this encouragement is attributed: “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

Wonder if that ever got her in trouble?

It’s gotten me in trouble. I remember completing our women’s shelter addition at the mission with an open-date right around the corner. Problem was I had been practicing Grace’s recommendation. We had plans drawn up by an architect, stamped by an engineer, approved by the City but because of cost and what I thought to be common sense, I deviated a bit from the plans. The fire marshal didn’t like the deviation. On inspection, I was told that extra sprinklers would have to be placed above every ceiling tile in the women’s dorm unit before we could open. Sometimes it might be easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. Sometimes it isn’t.

It’s the reason most of us don’t like consulting authority. There’s a chance the authority will disagree. It’s why we like to lean on our own understanding. To us, it’s what makes the most sense. Unfortunately, I think what’s common sense to us is too commonly wrong. In a world too complex to figure out, why would we lean on our own understanding? Because consulting with authority always comes with the risk of disagreement.

A new and powerful faith, Christianity, was gripping eastern Europe, its rapid advancement amazing everyone, the apostles included.  They knew the new movement was completely dependent on God and they wanted to be in agreement with Him. Always. With no precedent to follow, no rule book to guide them, they consulted the Holy Spirit in every strategic decision. I’m sure what they thought to be common sense was often corrected after consulting God. Apparently, this instance was remarkable and they noted it, “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision – and ours -”

Wow! They consulted God with what they thought was the right thing to do and discovered He was in agreement with their thought. Worth noting, obviously.

What would life be like for us if we consulted God rather than just using our common sense? How much common sense did Jesus use? He touched lepers, sent His friends into storms, drew crowds far away with no food to feed them, enjoyed dinner with thieves, loved prostitutes and didn’t seem to care that Lazarus was about to die. How often does our common sense lead us to Jesus’ uncommon actions?

Most of the time, we operate under Grace Hopper’s rule, asking for forgiveness after we’ve messed something up rather than asking permission before we do it.  Wouldn’t we be better off if we checked our common sense at the door, consulted with the Authority, and then operated by His uncommon sense instead?


One thought on “Uncommon Sense

  1. Isn’t it interesting that God gave us a brain, an ability to reason and to make decisions, but still expects us to lean on Him and not unto our own understanding. There are times when right and wrong are clear; but there are other times when we are faced with making decisions in which right and wrong are no so clear. Those surely are times to lean on Him for direction. Those are the times when we need to seek His guidance through His word.

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