For those just joining, this is part of a series of letters on spiritual growth and maturity. For the last letter, click this link.
When you sensitize yourself to the presence and voice of God you will no doubt begin to change. Your thoughts, movements, attitudes, responses, dreams, goals, ambitions, purpose, etc…will all be pulled towards the will of the Father. This is divine union, that of our will uniting with the will of God.
Many assume finding the will of God in their life is about what they should be doing. The will of God is then generally summed up in the question, “What should I do in life?” In a way this is a helpful question, but most of us find that we stumble into the answer. A better question regarding the will of God in the life of the believer is, “Who does God want me to become?”
The spiritual journey may find its best summation in the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. As he contemplates the entire purpose and destiny of his life, what he will have to go through in order to bring glory to God, and complete his assignment on earth he utters these words, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” This statement has shaped Christian thought, theology, and literature since the time of Christ. While it is not our present purpose to debate whether Jesus had a will separate from that of the Father, there is no doubt that you have at one point asked the question “What is God’s will in my life?”
We fail to realize that the question, “What should I do?” is often unanswerable for this simple reason: if God were to answer it directly we would either run from the answer because of the immensity of the task or fall into pride over the great plan he has for us. A great example is found when Peter addresses Christ:
“From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be unto you. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:21-23
As Jesus reveals the will of God to his disciples Peter actively rejects what Jesus says is the plan of God.
The question of the will of God is not about doing, it is about becoming. To the truly spiritual man, the will of God becomes his life, and in this way the will of man displays the life of God. The will of God in our life is revealed as we become what he has created us to be.
The will of God is simply this, that man would be united to God in will. The more the spiritual man becomes like He who is Spirit, he will do the things of Him who is Spirit. The question, “What should I do?” often paralyzes us into a state of non-action. If there is not an immediate answer, the individual may say, “Well, God has not answered my inquiry, therefore I will sit and do nothing.” Sometimes this question is more about absolving responsibility. In his patience, God is waiting for the individual to engage the journey of becoming the kind of person that God envisioned them to be when they were created.
The movement towards God’s will is found in denying self, and love of self, to seek the love of God. And the love of God is found in loving others. Jesus was and is the ultimate answer to the question of God’s will, he gave himself for sake of others. The answer to, “What does God want me to do?” is then much simpler, he wants you to be the kind of person that he was when he was on this earth. Forsaking our own lives should be complemented by esteeming of the lives of others. This is the broad will of God: that we would lay down our lives for the lives of others. When we take up His will we begin doing the kind of things that He would be doing.
“I delight to do your will, O my God: yea, your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8
As the law resided in David’s heart, he delighted in doing the will of God, which was found in doing what God found pleasing. The law in David’s heart was how David knew God. As David grew in relational knowledge of God, David delighted in doing what God would do. The same bears true for us today, and, in fact, we have a leg up on David! Why? Because we saw the kinds of things God did when he actually walked the earth. The call to lay aside your life for the benefit of others throughout the scriptures is not just arbitrarily there. It is there because that is the type of thing that the Messiah did when he actually walked with us. Honoring the life of God within will cause us to move towards casting our own will and life aside in order to foster His life and will.
Throughout your spiritual journey, as you give time to the Father, you will change. Your life may begin to echo the very words of Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Your desires and wants will change as you go about becoming, not in doing. However, those that are serious about apprehending this becoming will begin doing things differently. They will begin to think about doing the kinds of things that serve others. The spiritual man intends to be a blessing to all he interacts with.
Concern yourself with becoming who God wants you to become, not doing what God wants you to do. As you become the person that God intended you to be, you will begin doing the kinds of things that he wants you to do. It is inevitable.
Jesus saying, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Could be said like this, “Not my humanity, but your divinity.” When we make this statement we actually become more human.
The only one who walked this earth as fully human, yet fully of the divine nature made this statement at the crux of his life. As partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) what does it look like that we would make the same statement, “Not my humanity, but your divinity”?
The answer to the question is simple and two-fold. First, that we would be full of the type of life that was in Jesus. This is the type of life that laid everything down for others. Jesus emptied himself of anything that would claim God-status. The type of life that was in him was self-sacrificing life. This is the essence of humility, emptying of yourself for others. Second, the type of life that is described in Revelation when all is said and done, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
This is the kind of statement that we make when we realize that God is actually redeeming our humanity.