Last post, we established that the “Will of God” cannot be anything but obvious to the believer (link). However, looking around the church and our own lives, may leave us with a very different perspective. Are you ever left wondering, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I figure it out?”. It would be pretty easy for the sincere believer to get twisted into a knot when they read, “…don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). If Paul’s sarcasm in Ephesians 5 seems directed at you, read on!
We all need to grow. While it is true that we are expected to know God’s will, and while it is “senseless” not to know it, it is also true that all of us as believers are still in a process of gaining our senses, and growing by “degrees” (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18). We all know the kinds of situations that cause us the most angst are not the clear cut issues. They might cause us stress while we wrestle with whether we will obey.
However, when we come to the kind of question that doesn’t have a proof text, then our confidence begins to waiver. Does God have a specific will regarding which of these two Bible college programs should I pursue. Should I pursue veterinary medicine, or dental school? Should I take the job with this electrician, or that one? How should I school my child, public, homeschool, Christian school?
Does God care about each and every decision we make? Does he care what order I do my work in today? Are their “divine appointments” he has planned for me that I need to be aware of? Is there one person God has made, as my “soul mate”? What if I miss that special person? Is this what the will of God is all about?
Like many things in the Bible, the standard of knowing God’s will might seem impossible. For example we are told “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew5:44). Paul commands, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Deuteronomy 10:12 lays out: “what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul”. Jesus summed up the expectations for God’s people: “you shall be perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Can we do all the things the Bible commands us to do? Paul, the Apostle writes:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way (Philippians 3:12-15a).
Our next few posts will attempt to navigate the path of God’s will though the false ideas that lead us astray, the self-deceits that throw us off course, and establish a series of waypoints leading us to “press on toward the goal”.