Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thwarting God's will

Sometimes when I hear christians talk about God's perfect will, God's permissive will, submission to his will, the thorn in the flesh....I honestly want to scream!

We really have to seriously ponder this idea of God's will. Most Christians have this idea that God's will is carved in stone. Well, yes and no.

His will for our behavior and for our holiness is carved in stone. He wants us to be perfect as He is perfect. God's will is that all men come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. No negotiation on that.

But his will in our life is something we have to find, fight for, and sometimes fight against.

First: finding God's will:
We tend to believe that if something very wonderful comes our way it must be God's will. Well, who knows? One has to ask God what one should do. There are many snares out there! How many guys have married gorgeous women and felt totally lucky to have them -- only to be stuck with a selfish cruel person? How many women have thought themselves blessed to get a rich doctor/lawyer/businessman only to find herself hooked on drugs and alcohol to escape the sorrows of her marriage? Wouldn't she have been luckier if she had married the kind poor possibly not-so-handsome working class guy down the street?

Second: Fighting for God's will
St Paul writes in Timothy that we wage a good warfare against the adversary by the prophecies we have received. So, let's say you have a dream, a leading, an insight. Let me be specific: I had a dream in which God told me he has determined I will do six great works. Note: he doesn't say six great novels. That would be an assumption. It could mean four novels, one non-fiction book, and one other great work. So, there's some confusion in my little pea-nut brain. But there is no confusion about the six great works. So if Satan tries to kill me, if illness and stress try to kill me, I can fight against it with the prophecies God has given me. And oftentimes when I lay in bed thinking I was dying, I have done this very thing.

Third: Fighting against God's will
But sometimes we have to fight against God's will. And God is aware of this. Sometimes he even sends someone to stand in the gap to help us fight. His will was to destroy everyone in Sodom. But Abram challenged him and interceded. Yep, Sodom got destroyed but not everyone died. God's will was to destroy Nineveh. But He sent Jonah to stand in the gap and preach. Nineveh got destroyed but not immediately. His will was to kill Hezekiah, but Hezekiah pleaded and begged and cried his eyes out -- okay, why isn't there a book out there on how to bargain with God since a heck of a lot of Bible folks did just that?-- and Hezekiah got 15 years of life. (I wonder how that worked. Did he have a 15 year countdown? How did Hezekiah feel in the fifteenth year?) Whether Jesus was willing to heal the demon-possessed daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman, he wasn't gonna do it. But the woman pleaded and begged.

Then there is the son of the widow of Nain and there is Lazarus. Looking at it from a human perspective, we might think that God wanted these guys to die. . .because these guys died. But no! Jesus came on the scene.

The Bible is full of instances where we see God changing his will, or being pulled into something he had no connection with. Imagine the little damsel who was taken captive and became a maid to Naaman's wife. This girl pretty much invented her own healing theology out of whole cloth. As Jesus said, "there were many lepers during the days of Naaman the prophet and none were healed except Naaman a Syrian." But as far as that little maid knew -in her mind-- a prophet could heal this leader of his disease. No one had ever seen this kind of thing but hey, this girl believed the prophet could. So, is this God's will that Naaman be healed that he used the flaky confused theology of a little girl? Was the girl's theology even confused? Who knows? It certainly wasn't part of the theology of her time to expect this. . . but the girl was bold. (And honestly, was Naaman's healing so important to Israel in the grand scheme of things back in the day? Naaman didn't do much. Now we look back and we learn great lessons from him. Humility, obedience, and being allowed to hide our faith if we live in the middle east and believe in the God of the Bible. But for the most part, did God will Naaman to live as a leper?)

God's will is that all should seek his will, not assume that some bad thing -- or some good thing-- is his will. And He likes His people to fight in faith and hope.
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