When Common Sense Is Not so Common

If the term “common sense” doesn’t give you nostalgic sentiments about your childhood, then you did not have similar parents to mine. The term “common sense” was a common phrase in my childhood home.  If, as a child, I was doing something that was dangerous or careless, my parents would quickly retort, “Don’t do that!” Of course, the question that most logically responded from my childhood mind was, “Why?” And the response from my parents that I was soon able to predict with great precision was, “Because it’s just common sense.” Common sense is properly defined as a widely held expected practice of good judgment. It’s just common sense. 

As I grew into my teenage years the “common sense” discussion with my parents changed as my circle of influence broadened. Every teenager goes through the same stage of appealing to their parents for approval to do something because, “All my other friends are doing it.” At these times the response expanded to, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff would you do it? No! It’s just common sense.” If sense is common, then wouldn’t following a group be a good thing? Wouldn’t the commonality of friend’s good judgment be more secure in bigger numbers? I’m sure the reply would be something like, “Your friends don’t know common sense yet.” It is certainly true that good judgment has to be learned and guided.

As we look around our world, we see that common sense is actually not so common.  In fact, when it comes to good judgment, the believer and the non-believer are often separated in our sense of judgment. Why? Because Christians have one consistent authority that guides our judgement and decisions in all matters of conscience, preference, and absolute right and wrong. The world’s sense of morality and good judgment is continually changing on the basis of human philosophy and humanistic autonomous reasoning. The more Christians conform to the absolute truths and guidance in God’s Word, the less common our judgments become in this fallen world. The only true common sense is where there is a common authority to guide it.  It is only when we place our trust and attention to God’s Word in careful study and meditation that our common unity of good judgment strengthens in the light of absolute truth and righteousness. 

As the defining authority for common sense changes in our world, this presents the church with an amazing opportunity. The light of Scripture stands out as an unchanging guide in the darkness.  The bible points us in to one path with a clear understanding of future direction. While the church walks on a straight and narrow path heading toward a certain future, the world is meandering in the darkness trying to establish a common sense of judgment in a sea of confusing voices. We have a way in that darkness and can shine that light of the gospel authority and clarity for those who may respond out of the confusion.

Do you have a contention with an issue of preference? The bible says that in honor we are to give preference to one another (Rom 12:9-11).  Do you have a contention with conscience? The bible says that the work of the cross purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14).  Are you concerned about which direction to take? The bible says that through God’s divine power he has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (1 Peter 1:3). In the gospel of Christ, we are enlightened to the superior guiding truth in all of the universe.

To be fair to my parents, their use of the term “common sense” was never outside of the context of the authority of the Bible.  My parents may have used that phrase a lot, but they also clearly taught me that the wisdom of the world was folly and that God’s truth brings absolute confidence while this world is hurtling toward destruction. As I matured, I came to know that in the world there is actually not a common sense, but a common nonsense. In Christ and His Word there is a true common sense under a common authority for all those who are committed to study His Word and feed on His truth.