January 19, 2017
I think it's about time Christians came clean. It's time for us to be honest and quit hiding behind spiritual-sounding language that masks what's really going on. I can't tell you how often I've heard a Christian say, "God told me..." when what is actually going on is, "I really want to do..." Some years ago, a friend told me, "You aren't going to want to hear this, but God told me to leave my wife and be with her cousin." My response was as blunt as I could make it: "God told you no such thing. You want to do this without feeling guilty. God never told you that."
Usually it isn't so blatant. We want to know God's will for any number of scenarios. Should I leave my job for another one? Should I marry this person or that one? Should I move to...? Pastors are particularly guilty of this. "God is calling me to a new ministry." It's amazing how often that new ministry offers a larger salary. I rarely hear anyone feeling called from a thriving ministry to go to east Podunk.
The problem with this thinking is simple: it doesn't work. If things operated this way, one small slip and the entire program falls apart. If God wanted me to marry Linda and instead I married Maria, then not only would I have made an irretrievable mistake, but I would have ruined Maria and Linda's lives too, for they both would have then married the wrong men who would in turn have married the wrong women, etc. One person getting it wrong has a never-ending ripple effect that leaves everyone else with the wrong person.
I've often said that God's will is moral, ethical, and spiritual, but not personal. God doesn't' lock us into a single option. The Scripture says that "for freedom Christ has set us free." A single choice is no choice at all, and is certainly not freedom. Instead, God calls us to live with integrity, in holiness and purity, in everything we do.
Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." It doesn't say that God will give you the desires of his heart, but of ours. If we delight ourselves in him. So if our first order of business is delighting in God, the second question is, "What do I really want?" Often our problem is that we don't know. We haven't actually considered it, so we make blind choices as to what we think God might want, never asking if it is what we want, and when things don't work out, God gets the blame, when the real problem is we didn't think it through.
Forty six years ago, I chose Linda and she chose me. No one forced us to do this. We wanted each other. Once we made that choice, God's will was clear: we needed to be faithful to each other, considerate of each other. But we chose. Freely. We didn't have the option when things got difficult of saying that God somehow made a mistake and it was no longer his will that we be together. We had to work it out, and we did. Time and time again. Because God gave us freedom, he also gave us responsibility. And in that responsibility came a new freedom. We didn't have to wonder if the other were looking elsewhere. That door was closed, which gave us the freedom and energy to put into our marriage.
It's the same with a job. God gives us freedom to choose, but once chosen, we are to give that job everything we have. And if we don't like it, we can make the decision to move to another one, but we don't have the freedom to blame God if we made a bad choice.
Tonight I am grateful for the freedom Christ gives us by making his will moral, ethical, and spiritual, but not personal.