This post is the second of a series of posts about the concept of free will and God’s will. Each post will contain a thought related to the larger discussion of God’s Will & how it relates to us.
Being vs. Doing
Assuming that a good first view of God’s will is of a being nature, what about all the verses that talk of doing God’s will? There’s a lot of them, for example a well known one in Matthew 6:10 which says Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, or a few verses later in Matthew 7:21-23, which reads “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ I”ll use these two as a base for many verses like them.
It’s easy to read these verses and get caught up in what we do, but we must not have a narrow focus on things which demand a bigger scope, nor must we become selective in things which by nature are broad. Here’s what I mean by this.
Let’s take a verse that doesn’t speak directly about God’s will, but it does – Matthew 28:16-20, focusing on verses 19-20 which says Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. It doesn’t specifically say this is God’s will, but it very much is God’s will that people are saved and those who have been saved go and tell others of what’s happened to them. Notice what Jesus commands to be done – go, make disciples, baptizing them, teaching. Did you also notice what He didn’t say?
He didn’t say when to go.
He didn’t say how to go.
He didn’t say where specifically to go.
He didn’t say how to teach.
He didn’t say a lot of things. Why? Because sometimes details are inconsequential to the principle issues. The verb go in Greek written in a way that basically says as you’re going do this & that. As you’re going to wherever you’re going, make disciples.
Does this include Tanzania? Yep.
Does this include going by boat to Madagascar? Yep.
Does this mean in my own state? Yep.
Does this mean in my own backyard? Absolutely.
However you can think about going where there are people, it applies.
Principles: The Big Life Picture
Many people want to carry this out, but get hung up on the details of if, how, when, why, etc… Here’s the thing: to ask, “Is going to Zanzibar God’s will or is it that I should stay here?” is a self-defeating question in more ways than one. It creates a false conflict and ignores the bigger principles of God’s will for us.
Is it God’s will that you go to Zanzibar and make disciples? Yes, but it’s also God’s will that you stay where you are and do that same thing! Matthew 5 tells us we’re to be lights in the world – wherever we are! Should I take care of orphans in Malawi? YES, but you should also take care of any where you are now! To understand God’s will as a state of being & living first makes these debates seem silly. Should I go be a Christian here or there or there? Yes! To be like Jesus anywhere & wherever we go & are are the first principles of God’s will, and arguably the most important aspect of it. Consider Romans 12:1-2 which says I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What is the will of God? What is good, acceptable, & perfect for God! This is why reading Scripture is so important, particularly the Gospels. Why the Gospels? We’re to transform into Jesus by the renewing of our mind of who Jesus is, how He acts, & what He does. Is serving the societal poor good, acceptable, and perfect? Yes, Jesus did. Is loving even in the face of persecution? Yes, Jesus did. Is traveling to another country to serve & spread the gospel good? Yes, Paul, who said to imitate him as he imitated Christ, did. You see what I’m getting at? You can be God’s will wherever & whenever you are. To get hung up on these questions of “if it’s God’s will or not?” is missing the bigger principle that we ARE God’s will, and that has to be true wherever & whenever we’re going…anywhere!
Choices, Choices, Choices
I’m making such a big deal about this because its essential to understanding the other questions of free will, God’s sovereignty, & how God works in us. The question one might have from this is, “OK fine, I am God’s will, but how do I decide to go somewhere or do something? If I go and something happens is that God trying to tell me something?” How to make godly choices, & the beginnings of how that interacts with God’s carrying out of His will is what we’re cover next time.
I’ll end with a quote from Paul to the Corinthian church out of 2nd Corinthians 3:2-3- You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. As you go today – to Walmart, to the post office, to the park, remember that being like Jesus all the time, wherever we go, is the true marker of the church, & truly God’s will for each of us. Grace to you.