I have had the topic of God’s will on my mind lately. As I think about this topic, I can’t help but to think of two common ideas that Christians use often:
- God has a wonderful plan for your life.
- What is God’s will for my life?
Before I get my thoughts out, let me preface that these two statements may have some truth to them or the people who use it may intended to mean something that is very much true and Biblical, but I want to stop to discuss the dangers of these types of phrases.
Life Is Not Always Wonderful
It is very much true that the Lord has something wonderful for our life here on Earth and later in heaven. However, when we hear the word “wonderful,” our minds tend to drift toward never getting sick, no problems in our family, having a steady job, etc. However, Paul often speaks to the early church about suffering for God’s kingdom and enduring that suffering because it will produce in us something worth more than gold (Rom. 5:3; Eph. 3:13; 2 Tim. 1:5,8; 2:3; 4:5; 1 Pet. 2:19). The danger in telling others or yourself that God has a wonderful plan for your life is that it leads people to expect life following Christ to be an easy life. Having new life with Christ is wonderful! Freedom from sin and hope in Christ is wonderful! But life in Christ is by no means easy. I fail to see people who truly follow the Lord Jesus Christ who do not experience some kind of difficulty or suffering in their life. Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
I think the best perspective to have is one like Paul’s in Philippians 4:11-13:
“…for I have learned in what ever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty or hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Causes Misunderstanding and Self-Foscused Attitude
The other day my wife was listening to a Podcast called Stand to Reason with an apologist Greg Koukl, and he was talking with a listener about God’s Will. The question, “What is God’s will for my life?” came up in the conversation. I think that Greg Koukl said it well: it should not be “What is God’s will for my life?” rather we should say, “My life for God’s will.” I believe Greg Koukl’s statement makes most sense in light of what I know about God and the Bible. God is working out His plan, and we are to participate with Him. We have the privilege of being part of what God is doing in our world. When we ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” I believe it becomes easy to be self-focused and lose sight of what we are really called to do. Again, asking that question may not be completely bad because the Lord is at work in the individual life, too. However, let us not forgot God has already spoken through the Word, Jesus Christ, and we have the word, the Bible, that has laid out much of what God has for us while on Earth.
Lastly, I believe the statements above can also cause us to be short-sighted. We can see only what is right in front of us, causing us to strive after the here and now. Jesus said, “…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Our perspective should always be bent toward eternity. That is why we, as Christians, live so differently. Imagine if we actually looked at all we did through the lens of eternity! Wow! I think our lives would be noticeably different. This would cause us to view suffering, possessions, relationships, and everything else in our lives much differently, and position our hearts not to get angry at God when things go awry.
I ask everyone who reads this to try using the above phrases less so as to not confuse others, especially those new to following Christ. Instead, why not try using the phrase “My life for God’s will” more often and see where it takes you. I would like to conclude with a quote from CS Lewis’s book The Silver Chair because I think it puts God’s will into perspective for us. To help explain the quote, the children are trying to decide whether or not to release a boy they had just met from the chair to which he had tied himself. The boy had warned them not to let him out or he would end up hurting them. On the other hand, Aslan told the children that if anyone commands them to do something “In the name of Aslan” then they must do it. And of course, the boy tied to the chair changes his countenance, and suddenly commands them, “In the name of Aslan let me out of this chair!” At this point in the story, the children begin to debate what they should do, but Puddleglum says this:
“…Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the signs.”