Large Group Talk: Sandra Maria Van Opstal, "Deciding to Decide"

Reverend Sandra Maria Van Opstal preaches a powerful message out of Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A few highlights...

  • Sandra begins by describing how we make 35,000 decisions a day and invites us to consider what deciding to decide looks like through the Good Samaritan story.
  • She shows us that in this context, the expert of the law asking Jesus who his neighbor was had correct theology and knowledge, but he didn't apply it. He asked the questions to justify himeself – to put off deciding to decide. These are questions that don't allow us to live into the word God has given us. 
  • Sandra poses us this question: Why don't we act?  She notes that for the Samaritan, he saw, and he was moved to compassion. He thought to himself: Somebody, somewhere has to do something about this mess. Me! I can do something about this mess. 
  • She offers two explanations for what creates indecison for us: first, our sense of self – Who am I to speak? Who am I to lead? And second, our sense of fear – What if I say the wrong thing? 
  • But Sandra pointedly demonstrates that information does not equal action. Learning does not equal change. Rather, learning leads to change. We have to decide and move forward knowing we're going to make mistakes. 
  • She challenges us to not allow indecision to stop us from doing something great that the world is waiting for. She reminds us that indecision IS a decision. 
  • Somebody, somewhere has to do something about this mess. And that someone is you, me, and us, and we must have eyes to see and hearts to care.
  • The invitation we have from Jesus is to "Go, and do likewise." 

This message was originally recorded for InterVarsity Live! on June 12, 2020, but still has resonance for today.

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For more on the Good Samaritan story, read this article:  Responding to Injustice During a Pandemic.

Bible Study Guide Companion Resource

If you’d like to continue to explore the theme of “Deciding to Decide / Rejecting Indecision,” consider using this Bible Study Guide as a companion piece to Sandra's talk on Luke 10:25-37.

Download Bible Study Guide


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Sandra Maria Van Opstal, a second-generation Latina, pastors at Grace and Peace Community on the west-side of Chicago. She is a preacher, liturgist and activist who re-imagining the intersection of worship and justice. In her fifteen years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Sandra mobilized thousands of college students for God’s mission of reconciliation and justice in the world. Sandra served as Director of Worship for the Urbana Missions Conference, Chicago Urban Program Director, Latino National Leadership Team (LaFe), and Northwestern University Team leader (Multiethnic fellowship).