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The paralysis of analysis.


At first I thought it was simply a reflection of Mark's trademark usage of the Greek word euthus, usually rendered immediately. He did, in fact, use that term 42 (maybe 43) times in writing what we've recorded as the Second Gospel. There is a sense of urgency about his record of Christ's life. Everything seemed to move in a hurry. So, when he wrote about the call of the first disciples, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, he wrote---

And Jesus said to them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And

Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:17-18, ESV

In the next few verses Mark wrote about the call of brothers James and John---

And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his

brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called

them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and

followed him.

Mark 1: 19-20, RSV

Out of curiosity, or perhaps from what I had been taught along the way, I then read the parallel passages in Matthew's Gospel, Matthew 4: 18-22. The reading was so similar. Matthew wrote it this way---

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called

Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were

fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he

saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the

boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.

Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

The lesson? The immediate response of the first four of Christ's disciples wasn't a stylistic peculiarity of Mark's take on the Gospel. No, the immediacy of their response was because they were instantly obedient to the call of Christ. There wasn't any deliberation, analysis, observation, or pray-about-it delay in their answer to Christ's call. They immediately left their nets, and their father, and followed Christ.

A nano-second culture has mastered the fine arts of analysis and deliberation. We're quick on the draw about many life issues because the world is on stop-watch timing today. Over analysis can cost us the deal, the great price point on the house, the minute by minute timing of the market, or the promotion that's been hanging over our desk blotter for some time now. Tickets sell fast, slots are filled in a hurry, numbers are called by the second, the tick of the clock is often the cash register dinging mega- bucks. That is, till we get to church, or to a greater extent, to our spiritual lives. Then we have to pray about every decision, share it with our accountability partner, spend some time in purposeful deliberation, develop a few analytical graphs and charts, weigh the pros and cons, maybe get some counsel. These delaying tactics are often applauded as patience, or steadfastness, or study, maybe waiting patiently on God. In the spiritual economy they could just as well be just disobedience.

Sure, we must pray and deliberate and analyze those inspirations we are experiencing during our journey. Human hearing isn't always that good, and our ability to discern what God is saying to us can be distorted or misinterpreted. But, here's the deal. What is commanded by Scripture requires our instant obedience. Anything else, no matter how we try to dress it up or sanctify it, is disobedience.

Yes, the paralysis of analysis can keep us on the sidelines of what God wishes for our lives. More than that, it can transfer us to long lines of disobedient people who have hyper- analyzed everything God has commanded in Scripture and found their way better than his. And, for the moment, I'm wondering what the paralysis of analysis would have done to Peter and Andrew, James and John, and millions of other who have heard the call of Christ and responded immediately.

It's what keeps many of us in the starting blocks. The paralysis of analysis.


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