The Will of God

Did you think I was going to tell you what it is? No such luck. I have often run into people who are struggling to know what the will of God is for their lives. I have sought specifics myself. I have even met some people who seem to know. I met one woman who warned me not to tell her son-in-law about a particular job he would have been awesome at because it was God’s will that her daughter remain overseas as a missionary and I’d best not mess that up.

The reality is that unlike “The Way” the will of God is not usually that narrow or specific as to dictate the details of our lives. I have met people who have been so distraught over having possibly missed the will of God somehow that they are beside themselves that they might be forever off-track.

The reality is you are doing the will of God wherever you are seeking/attempting to live a life of obedience…no matter what you are doing.

It is not God’s will that you find that one person destined for you. It is God’s will that as you seek that person (or simply journey hoping to meet such a person) that your journey be in submission to that which is God.

It is not God’s will that you be a pastor so much as it is God’s will that you pastor wherever you are to whomever you can. Should that lead to a vocational role in ministry so be it…but we must be careful how cavalierly we attempt to use Gods will in our lives to justify personal desires or to interfere in other people’s lives.

We say “I am doing this because it is God’s will” when we should say “I am doing this because I want to and think I can honour God along the way” because this is closer to the reality.

I have heard stories of men telling women that they knew it was God’s will that they should become their wife. This is not only wrong but abusive and dishonest.

“It is God’s will that I go to Bahamas and mission.”

Is it? Is it really? Does this mean if you go to the impoverished First Nations of Canada in the north you are not doing God’s will? There is nothing wrong with ministering to people in the Bahamas…there is something wrong with claiming that this, above any other place, is where God wants you to minister as if God’s will is so exclusive (and warm).

The dangers of assuming so narrow a definition of God’s will is it contributes to an abusive theology. A leader can claim it is God’s will for their congregation to offer him their money (and in some cases their daughters). I would say sons as well but I have yet to encounter a female leader in the church who has been as abusive as our men have at times and most of this abuse has been done under the warrant of “God’s will”.

The reality is all that we do is our will…it becomes God’s will when we seek to act in a way compatible with that will. We are not puppets of God’s will as much as we would like to be. The all-knowing, foreknowledge of God is not the same as inescapable fate.

Do not be discouraged if you think you have lost sight of God’s will in some way. What does God want of us? Micah sums it up best –

“God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6-8

The brilliant thing is that you can do all of this, God’s will, no matter what you do, no matter who you are with (or not with) in life, no matter what your job.

8 thoughts on “The Will of God

  1. I agree with the limited knowledge we must humbly walk in when attempting to honour what we think is God’s will. Is there not a specific plan as, for example, how Jesus specifically called and led Paul? Or, David? Or, Sampson?

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      1. So, no presage? There are numerous instances in scripture where a prophet obtains a direct revelation for what God wants to do with a specific individual and with the a nation. The degree to which the ‘will of God’ in these instances is actualized is dependent upon the faithfulness you describe. David is an excellent example as well as Sampson. I’m still thinking this one through. I agree with your dismissal of the misunderstanding of the will of God as a specific dot in the middle of a circle (i.e. which house to buy, etc.). But I think the problem is related to the role of faithfulness in actualizing what God intends for the church and individuals.

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      2. I think part of the concern I have is the use of a specific few instances to validate it as a legitimate disclosure for the 7 billion people on the planet. The evidence does not bear this out.

        Faithfulness does not actualize the will of God so much as place you within it’s broad boundaries if that makes sense. I don’t want people to assume (like Christian Zionists for instance) that acting in a certain way will bring about certain actions on God’s part.

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  2. I understand your concern. We will probably agree that the ‘evidence’ must be drawn from scripture, otherwise, our concerns limit the authority of revelation. Perhaps we need to look more broadly at the matter of prophecy aka revelation: There were true and false prophets teeming within the nation of Israel. Let’s say there were many false and very few true prophets. All were claiming direct revelation. The ‘true’ prophet was the one who was ‘like Moses,’ whose word came to pass and who did not lead Israel astray after other gods. Transposing these tests of true revelation is difficult since ‘Moses’ tends to be equated with ‘works of the law’ and we have difficulty in our culture with the care and service of the gods that was characteristic of the Ancient Near Eastern religious systems. The ‘coming to pass’ idea is also difficult but surmountable in my view.

    That is the task which must be undertaken to draw out the truth concerning God’s will for the moment. Your sentence ‘faithfulness does not actualize the will of God’ is a curious reflection back of what I was trying to say. I was thinking of a phrase such as ‘the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness’ (Psalm 18:24). For example, David’s sin with Bathsheba can be viewed as a remote cause of the split between north and south Israel. Had he been faithful to the tenets of Moses, what might have become of the nation in terms of its unity and acutalization of God’s vision?

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    1. I’m thinking of actualization in the sense of controlling God as opposed to a response.

      I think we pretty much agree on this. Direct revelation is a presentation of God’s will to a limited number of people in history but still ultimately people who had to decide if they would act accordingly or not.

      Generally speaking 99,9 percent (rough estimate) of humanity will never have such revelation and yet many teach that they can know God’s will as if they will have this form of revelation.

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      1. I thoroughly enjoy exploring the Ancient Near Eastern worldview. The uses and abuses of the ‘will of the gods’ is fascinating especially in light of the rise of Assyria, Babylon and Medo-Persia. Translating all of this to our modern world is a lifelong process. What does it mean to me and my own decision making?

        The issues you are addressing in your initial post also irritate me. It becomes very handy to justify our will by calling it the will of God. For example, I can hardly stomach a response like ‘that’s just not what God is leading us to do’ or ‘God told us through our pastor that we should do this or that.’.

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