- Photo by Dustin Maust -
I sense a lot of fear in America's families: fear of loss, fear of debt (well, actually it's the thought of paying off the debt that makes people tremble), fear of abandonment, fear the kids won't do well, fear of getting caught and fear of being deceived. Since people are getting so good at lying, it's harder and harder to know if preachers, parents, union bosses, professors and politicians are deceiving us.
We fear being tricked. We fear looking like fools. We fear a future filled with regrets as people point at us and say, "She should have known better." We fear the grilling of future critics (benefiting from their 20/20 hindsight) demanding to know: "How could you? Why didn't you see this coming? Didn't you know this would happen?"
We're afraid of betting on the wrong horse, but we don't know who to trust for advice. We're pressured to place our bets but we don't have a clue who to bet on. Conflicting opinions give us pause. We fear a mistake. We're not sure who has the answer to the problems we face. In fact, we fear the question hasn't even been framed properly.
It's no wonder folks are fearful.
On any given day we'll hear people espouse diametrically opposed positions on important issues. They promote their agendas with skill and conviction. We want to believe. We really do. The problem is trying to decide, when so many solutions are in opposition to all the others. Each says all other agendas (except their own) are bad, wrong, inadequate or evil.
Whether they're advocating positions on global warming, the national debt, hurricane relief, gun ownership, welfare, states rights, Iran's nuclear ambitions, the attack on America's Embassy at Benghazi, limits on abortion, improving public education, budget management or FEMA's responsibilities, the 24/7 news-cycle is keeping conflict in front of us ... every second of every day.
So what are we to do?
As divisive storms rage, hurricanes roar and political pundits rant, the challenges we face are becoming obvious - even to the oblivious. So I'm proposing a path through the conflict that pulls us out of fearsome debate on the "will" of others and helps us remember the "will" of God. I'm not elaborating on the disputed nuances of God's "permissive will," or "perfect will," or "sovereign will." I'm not arguing debatable issues.
I'm suggesting we agree on this fact: God's "will" is a serious matter, and the consequences of either ignoring God's "will," or acting on it, are astonishing!
The way we address the circumstances we're facing will determine how those circumstances change, for better or worse.
Let's take God's "will" into account as we take our next steps.
A few simple observations about God's "will."
1. Mark 3:35 - (Jesus said HIS family does God's "will.") "Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother."
2. Ephesians 1:1 - (Paul said it was by God's "will" that he became an apostle of Jesus and came to understand his role.) "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God."
3. 1 Peter 4:19 - (Peter admonished Christ's followers to keep doing "good," even when God's "will" includes suffering.) "So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."
4. Colossians 4:12 - (Epaphras prayed Christians wouldn't be wishy-washy about the "will" of God.) "He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured."
5. Romans 12:2 - (Paul said God's "will" can be figured out and tested.) "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
6. Hebrews 10:36 - (The author of Hebrews said there are consequences to doing the "will" of God - good consequences.) "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."
7. 1 John 3:8-9 - (John declared sin is of the devil and those "born of God" can't continue sinning as before - as if nothing changed when they were "born of God.") "The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God."
God's "will" is of towering importance; it is ultimately supremely important.
Once you settle that matter you can order your steps and take action accordingly. You can proceed in God's "will," unafraid, because in the end, God has God's way, God's "will" is done, and God wins. Maybe that's one reason Jesus said again and again, "Don't be afraid," because there's no need to fear when God's "will" is done.
When you cast your vote at the ballot box next week, and you pray, "Thy will be done" (as you let God's "will" inform your action) you don't need to fear. You're not betting on a "long shot." If your agenda is God's "will" you're picking the sure Winner.
Don't be afraid.
Do God's "will."
1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 - Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.