The “will of God” is an excuse to not follow Jesus?

The “will of God” is an excuse to not follow Jesus? January 17, 2013

HT: Rebecca Kasparek

I think that fellow Anabaptist blogger, Drew G.I. Hart makes a great point in his recent article called: The Will of God – More Abstractions so we can avoid following Jesus. He says:

People wrestle constantly over whether they are aligned with God’s will’. This is the most sacred of tasks for many people. If one can be sure they are walking in the will of God, all is well. And so we try to ‘discern’. We try to discern if the church we are currently attending is the right one to feed us and our faith. We try to discern if that someone special is ‘the One’ for us. We try to discern if a particular ministry opportunity is what God is calling us to. If someone asks us to commit to help serve others because we are capable of doing so, first we need to pray about it. We pray about it because we need to know if it is in God’s will for our lives.

Many of us get this. And to be clear, we all NEED to seek the will of God. But, sometimes this can become an excuse. A way out of doing the things in Scripture that are clear…. obvious… and mandatory (even if in an invitational tone). He says the following about what happens when some Christians “hear God’s will:”

Following this logic, people amazingly tend to hear from God through the Spirit. The Spirit just so happens to lead most people into living lives that are self centered, apathetic, and in pursuit of the American Dream.

Wow. This hits many of us right in the proverbial face…. Why? Because it is so true so often at various levels, admittedly, at times in my life. The comfort and ease of the American Dream is well, comfortable and always seducing to the imagination.

Drew goes on to bring this argument to its important peak:

What I am saying is that the Christian life is not a blank slate, upon which we need to discern how to fill it all up. Instead, the Christian life  is defined by a concrete lifestyle and ethics which demands following. We follow the life of Christ. Jesus is never on route to the American Dream (or the Imperial Throne of Rome), but to the cross. In fact, to choose to not live a life of the cross is to choose to no longer be Christ’s follower (Luke 14:27).

This is a challenge that we, who claim to follow the revolutionary from Nazareth, need to be reminded of on a regular basis. The powers clothed in the American Dream win our hearts and actions (way too often). Thanks Drew for the reminder.

I should add, for clarity sake, that Drew is all about the Holy Spirit. He states: “I still do believe that we ought to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. Yet, we must insist that there is only one Spirit, and it is always guiding us concretely in the steps of Jesus.”

Read Drew’s full article here.

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  • I read both your post and Drew G I Hart’s post.

    I feel it’s a mistake for a Christian to focus primarily, especially in anxiety, over whether or not they are in “God’s will” for their life.
    Looking back over the course of my life during times when my life was not smooth sailing, nor a joyful time, and even times or heartache or pain. I could have had the mind set that I was not in God’s will and this is why “this” thing has happened. But, God used those hard times to create something in me that needed work. Those hard times especially grew faith. And further, and most importantly, He was glorified by my testimony.

    The focus should be in and on Christ Jesus. We should “set our face like flint” to Jesus.

    The first point in obedience to Christ Jesus, is to read his Word. This seems like such a simple task, yet so few do this on a regular basis, it is easily pushed to the side with our other important duties.

  • Discerning the will of God is always done in a cultural context. In the case of North America, that context is individualistic. So the finding the will of God is seen to be finding his will for me, as an individual. But God calls us to community and in community. At one point, God’s guidance to Paul did not come to him, but to the elders in his church. Because individualism is built into our culture, we are blind to it and we read our faith through it and often do not allow our faith or the Scriptures to judge it. I like what you write here – a lot. But I think that you can’t get past the problem with “finding the will of God” while allowing that idea to be a prisoner of an individualistic culture. It is rather refreshing to attend a church in Africa where everyone gets on board with the program the elders have prayed over, for example, because the assumption is that God’s will for the whole body will come through them, or to work with a godly African who will only take a role in Bible translation if the leaders of his church approve. Even though that approach is not perfect either.