Thursday, January 15, 2009

God's will and why we want to know it

Let's think about the will of God.

We know God has a will. In fact, according to the Bible, there are at least two senses in which the will of God is described. One is his sovereign will of decree, which is his overarching and grand plan that will certainly come to pass in and through the tiny, minuscule happenings of the universe. Every event from photosynthesis happening in algae to 9-11 in New York, God is ordaining all things to happen according to his will, and his plans are reaching a glorious and purposeful terminal point. A second kind of will are his commands. It is his will for us is to be like Christ, to behave according to his moral standards, and to do good works. Unlike the sovereign will, his moral will can be, and is often, thwarted and disobeyed by his free creatures.

We also know that as Christians we want to know God's will in another sense, that is, his will for our lives. Which school should I choose? Which job should I take? Who should I marry?

Let's think about this for a second. First, of all, let's ask: why do we want God to reveal to us these things? Is it because we want to position ourselves most strategically for his Kingdom, to maximize our effectiveness and reach in winning people to Christ? Is it because we want to be in those places that will best challenge us to live holier lives of greater purity? Maybe some people actually do think this way, but most of us don't.

So why do we want to know God's will? I think we simply want to have the happiest life possible. Now, this not the happiness that Christians often equate with sensual pleasure, rather, it's the happiness which comes from being in the right vocation where you're using your gifts and talents to maximum and making an impact on systems and societies; it's the happiness that comes with being with the right person and enjoying lifelong partnership together. We seek the happiness of living life efficiently, smoothly and with little struggle. Let's be real. Isn't this what we all want? When we seek to make "wise" decisions, by following the advice of Proverbs for example, isn't it for the purpose of maximizing happiness and minimizing strife in life?

If this is so, then we think that it would be best if we knew the future. And who's the only person we know that knows the future and is planning its outcome? Exactly. Hence, we seek God's will because of our desire to maximize happiness in life.

Of course, while the Bible has a lot to say about the pursuit of happiness and blessed living, it also has much to say about suffering. So, there's a balance to everything, but for now, let's just admit that we seek God's will to our own personal happiness. It's sounds a little selfish and unchristian, but I think it's true.

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