11 January 2012

"God's Will"

There's plenty of talk about "God's will." We have self-help books that contain the keys to "discerning God's will," as if it were some kind of secret knowledge that has already been determined. People interweave "God's will" into everyday conversations:
"But, only if it's God's will..."
"I trying to figure out God's will for my life..."
"I wonder if God wants this to happen?"

We've somehow conjectured the idea that God has only one plan scripted out for our life, and if we don't figure it out we'll fail.

Lately, even politicians have been joining in the conversation, claiming that it was God's will that they run for office. Jerry Falwell recently proclaimed that God revealed his presidential pick, as if only one [Republican, obviously] candidate can do God's will in office. Christian fans are proclaiming that it has been "God's will" for quarterback Tim Tebow to "miraculously" win football games as a testament to his outspoken Christian witness.

I think that we're a bit confused about the nature of God's will. I also think that determining God's will is a lot simpler than other people make it out to be.

One particular Scripture passage that we draw our theology of "God's will" from is Romans 12. Here, Paul discusses just how it is that the Roman Christians he is addressing can discern God’s will. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,” he writes, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (12:2). After our minds are transformed, we can understand God’s will. Unfortunately, many English translations do not accurately encompass the meaning of the latter half of 12:2. The NIV, for instance, translates the adjectives “good, pleasing, and perfect” as modifiers of “God’s will.” A better translation from the Greek reads as follows: “[…] so that you may be able to prove what God’s will is – that which is good, pleasing, and perfect.”



English translations (NIV, KJV, ASV, etc)

“God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect.”


“God’s will is that which is good, pleasing, and perfect.”

Although these translation differences may be subtle, they make a significant difference in how we should understand the nature of God’s will. Are things “good” because God declares that they are “good?” Or can things be “good” in themselves, and God affirms and delights in their “goodness?” In light of Romans 12:2, the latter is the best understanding of God’s will. We can know that things are within God’s will for humankind and creation because they are in accordance with his goodness and perfection.

What is God's will for me? Pursuing a life that pursues God's goodness and God's perfection. Living a life that invites God's kingdom here on this earth, as it is in heaven.

May we continue to delight in God's goodness and seek to pursue it in all we do.

(p.s. Now you don't need to read any more self-help books. You're welcome.)

1 comment:

Polly Jones said...

Beautifully put and gives me lots to think about. Thanks for this post!