So, last week we talked about part God’s desire for his creation. We looked at how God created the world and how he charged humanity to care for that world. We also looked at God’s desire for justice and concern for others. Today, we’ll look at two more focuses of God’s will.
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6.4-5 (JPS)
Here’s the big one. This phrase right here has been important to God’s people for centuries. It’s known in Hebrew as the shemah which translates to “Hear” or “Listen.” This may be one of the greatest desires of God, is to have His impressive love returned by his people. The story of the Bible is of God repeatedly showing his beloved people through mighty acts that His love is greater than anything they could ask for. He continually reminds us, even today, that He is always standing ready to receive us, as the Prophets and Jesus regularly taught. Jesus gives us the incredible picture of the Father in the Story of the Prodigal Son, waiting patiently for his son to come home. Even the first three of the Ten Commandments are there to remind His people that there is only one God, and putting our love and faith into any other object is, ultimately, misplaced. (Am I saying loving others is wrong? No. Far from it. If our love is put into God first, then we will have an abundance of it to then share with everyone we meet!) Paul mentions that if we should boast, we should boast in nothing less than God. Because, let’s face it, parents know the incredible joy when their child begins speaking proudly of their parents! “My dad’s the best, he can shoot marshmallows twenty feet!” or “My mom’s the greatest, she builds the best pillow forts!” Even if what our kids are proud of seems silly, consider that God desires that same kind of love and affection from us, regardless of our age. Remember, we are created in the image of God, and our desire for love and affection are very much the image of God. Does God need validation, though? Not really. For fear of getting too technical, we’ll stick with John’s description that God is love. (Just try not to confuse tht for love is god, which is an entirely different thing altogether.)
God to Abraham: “I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make you name great, And you shall be a blessing. […] And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12.2-3 (JPS)
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28.19-20a
God wants us to bring others to him. “Have you met my dad? He’s so cool!” is the kid phrase to use here. What else is there to bringing someone to God than the childlike exuberance that leads to wanting to introduce our friends and neighbors to the greatest part of our lives. I mean, God’s desire is for humanity to return his love. He also wants to speak, serve, and love through us to make that a reality. God works in us and through us to change the world around us -to use a phrase from a well-known Children’s curriculum. But consider that for a moment. The God who created, who sustains, who crafted universes, quarks, and matter itself, wants to partner with us to make his will reality. He chooses to work through ordinary people, you and me, to accomplish the great things. You’ve all seen the Facebook memes listing God’s servants based on their failings and weaknesses, but it’s true – God uses the people least expected to accomplish the unexpected. (Also, as a sidenote, the myth that the only people who can live a life devoted to blessing others and bringing them to Jesus are those people with degrees, titles, or specially designated jobs… can we let go of that, please? You can be just as effective at being a blessing at your job analyzing data or managing a trucking fleet as I can from my office inside a church building.)
So when you’re wondering whether or not something fits into God’s will, think about what God’s will is. “Is it responsible and does it take care of creation?” “Does this, or could it be used to, care for the people around me?” “Does this show complete trust in God and allow me to place my love and trust in Him alone?” “Does this give me an opportunity to be a blessing where I am and to bring others to God?”