The will of God

For a Christian, he/she belongs not only to God, but participates in a culture. Automatically, he becomes a member of a community. Therefore, he becomes a part of a subculture. There are rituals and vocabulary that automatically become part of his life.

One such vocabulary is talk concerning guidance and decision making. This is encapsulated in one slogan: “God loves you and has a perfect will for your life.” Christian decision making then is referring our decisions to the ‘perfect will’ and obey it. Presumably we are ‘putting God as the Lord of our lives’ when we do this and ‘living in our own strength’ when we do not. There are several methods of finding out this ‘perfect will’: 1) Listening to God’s voice. 2) Searching the bible. 3) Intepreting ‘closed doors’ and ‘open doors’. 4) Advice from more mature believers. 5) Spiritual gifts and inclinations. 6) And if you’re pentecostal, being prophecied over.

My gripe?

It is not scriptural…and therefore manipulative. It encourages a sort of pseudo spirituality which has little to do with what an authentic Christian life is. So where does the problem lie? Which premise is unscriptural in the entire enterprise?

Precisely the fact:” God loves you and has a perfect will for your life.” This theme is entirely absent from Genesis to Revelation. There are many great themes in the bible, fellowship, unity, redemption, holiness, love, etc…but the conjuction of the theme love and guidance is never articulated as above.

Let us unpack the whole statement above into its constituent ideas. Presumably I understand it to say something along this lines: God loves you. Therefore he wants the best for you. He is also infinitely wise and knows what is the best for you. Now the best for you would certainly involve the best way to grow in all facets of the christian life. So then, God packages together the perfect set of instructions that, upon obedience gives growth. This set of instructions will involve decisions on friends, choice of lifestyle, career, marriage(if applies), investments and etc…

So the process of discovering God’s will for our lives is both imperative and central to our walk with God. If obedience would mean anything, it means first and foremost, obedience to God’s ‘perfect will’. As it is commonly put across in sermons, deviations from this ideal leads to meaninglessness, suffering(with qualification), unable to taste fully God’s blessing (with qualification on the term blessing) and etc…

As I have said, this doctrine (as I have put it above) is absent in the bible. But the themes of love and guidance abound in many stories and narratives. Indeed, God does guide his people. He guided the Isrealite from slavery into the Promised Land. He guides leaders like Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuilt a battered Jerusalem. He guided Jesus to the cross and Paul across Asia Minor. That God guides his people is clear.

However, this also means one thing. There will be times when God’s guidance leads us into places and situations where the going gets tough. The Israelites was lead into the desert, battle with tribes on the way. War in the promised land. Nehemiah faced political backstabbing. Jesus, opposition from the Jews and ultimately to the cross. And Paul faced persecution almost every other time. The grand theme of guidance here is enlarged onto a grander scale than what is taught by that doctrine. If anything it is small and chops out the dirty little bits of what guidance is all about.

And as we can see, guidance is not something sought for but something conferred upon. It is always God who births the desire in our hearts to follow him in a certain way. There is that burning conviction to do something, a strong sense of vocation. Guidance is mediated through something called ‘calling’, which is mysterious. A sense of calling cannot be manufactured. When God calls, his sheep hear and obey. It is final. In our age of cheap spirituality or mass market christianity, hearing God’s call is an art we have lost. It is not an impulse, neither is it a voice in our soul, nor is it a dream or a ‘word from God’. When God calls, we will know it, it is that mysterious. In the meantime, we wait.

So what do we do waiting? We continue on with our daily lives. God has given us our bare nessecities. The little things that we know we must do. We are to do this faithfully and reverence. Of what happens in the future our heavenly Father will take care. Decisions that come by our way, we use our common sense and rationality to decide. As with time and money, the teaching of stewardship suffices to guide decisions. If obedience means anything, it means obeying God’s commands in our daily living, that is the surest way of getting spiritual benefits.

I think I can summarize by saying that finding out God’s will for our lives is an irrelevant question. He has made it known already, and yes, it is in the most mundance and ordinary institutions and rules. But when it is time, he will call.


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About me

moogleBorn and bred in KL, Malaysia. Now studying for his Phd in Singapore. Learning to walk one fall at a time.
March 2005
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