The Will of God?
It is a very common thing to wonder about knowing God’s will. After all it’s foundational to our relationship with Him. God created us. He is the author and perfector of living life well. We on the other hand can often want things that are no good for us. We can often find ourselves in the predicament of desiring everything that is bad for us and not being interested in what is good for us. Our lives depend on learning to listen and follow God’s way precisely because it is not our way. The bible over and over lets us know that people who obey God have a good relationship with God. They enjoy blessed life. Those that choose another path experience the opposite. Listening to and obeying God are fundamentals. That being said we need to start asking is God’s will an obvious thing or a hidden thing? Is it difficult or easy to understand? Is His voice and our voice indistinguishable in the internal life of the mind and spirit? I will not for one minute contend that these questions are easy to do away with. I have struggled and continue to struggle with listening to God. God’s ways can often seem mysterious. But to mangle a Kierkegaard quote (that often gets attributed to Mark Twain for some reason) “It’s not the parts of God’s will that I don’t understand that frighten me, it’s the parts I do understand that keep me awake at night.”
There are a good number of aspects of God’s will, and how he wants us to live, that He has made as plain as the nose on your face. Yes there will be times of mystery. Times of waiting and asking. Times to ask friends. To seek guidance. To wonder what God wants from us. But I thought I would share a short list of things that God has made as plain as day.
1. Acting Justly. The Christian life is one where justice is to be at the centre. Ill gotten gain, unjust treatment of others, and self-centred living all serve to increase human suffering. The temptation to cut corners or take advantage of someone can be a frequent occurrence. A simple rule of life is: if you have questions about a specific action, for example, “Is it permissible to…?” Your reservations about this course of action are an early warning sign that you are being tempted to not act justly
2. Living Generously: There was an economic crisis in this country long before the events of this last fall. Personal spending has been out of control. The average Canadian lives beyond their means. Our society is marked by rampant materialism. Our lack of generosity in the face of unprecedented wealth is first and foremost a spiritual crisis. Materialism militates against the kind of generous living God wills for us. It is God’s will that our lives are marked by sound stewardship and sacrificial giving. John Wesley used to advise “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
3. Living Well: It is God’s will that we be connoisseurs of all of the best things in life (most of which are free). We are to relish and celebrate life’s abundance. Lack of generosity can often be tied directly to failed recognition of the abundance in life.
4. Living for Others: Jesus was sent out into the world to send us out into the world. We do not have to wonder if it’s God’s will that we share all the good that he’s given us with others. Contrary to popular practice participation in the great commission is not optional.
Knowing the mind of God is no easy thing. However, since he has made so many things obvious to us it isn’t entirely impossible either. When asking the question “What does God want me to do?” – it would serve you well to consider and practice the obvious things first, the rest will often have a habit of falling into place.
Rev. Jared Siebert is the Director of Growth Ministries for The Free Methodist Church in Canada