What’s God’s Will? [Theological Thursday]

You know, we throw the phrase, “If it’s God’s will,” around a whole bunch. My favorite is when teenagers use it as an excuse to start dating or break up. “You see, I was praying, and I feel like it’s God’s will that we break up and I start dating Lucy.”

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the sentence in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Referencing Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy he proposes a definition that the kingdom is God’s effective will on earth. Rather than a “later” kingdom, the kingdom is “at hand,” as Jesus would say, and is currently here, breaking through into our daily reality. In other words, “Your kingdom come” is an act of surrendering ourselves to God’s will in order to effectively work toward spreading the kingship of Jesus. (Yes, Jesus is already King, but we also realize that there are those human beings who refuse to recognize that fact and act according to their own wills and desires.”

To ask God’s will is to, in some ways, ask “What do you want, God?” So what does God want? How do we know? He’s given us a large letter with several specifics on what he wants.

“And God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on the earth.'” Genesis 1.28 (JPS)

From the very beginning God has tasked his people with responsibility for the world. We are to be His agents caring for and working the land. We are to master and responsibly tend to the life around us in animals, plants, and nature. God said that all of this is good. If God said it is good, then God must have a plan for the physical world around us. And if we believe this, we will take care of the world God has tasked us with ruling.

“‘He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God.'” Micah 6.8 (JPS)

The Prophets (known more for their repeated calls for repentance than predictions) acted as God’s messengers to remind God’s people of their covenant and of God’s love, mercy, and appeals. If we look at the Bible as a whole, the message of “Come back to Me” seems to be the main theme. But as important are God’s repeated appeals for His people to be examples of justice and goodness, mercy, and love. Consider that Christians are called to be people who follow everything that Jesus taught – and he apparently thought it doable, since it was the last thing he told his disciples. God’s desire here is that we fight against oppression and slavery, that we share and give of our excess in order to bless those around us. God’s desire is for our hearts to be open and welcoming of the stranger and willing to share with those who ask. We are, in essence, to love our neighbor as ourselves and be willing to do (actively) to them what we would want them to do to us.

We’ll cover two more parts of what God desires next week. Keep in mind though, that these broad desires for His people can easily be applied to many different situations. Responsibility and Christ-like kindness are something God truly desires from His people.

 

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