Sunday, January 6, 2008

Relational Theology Makes Finding God's Will a Meaningful and Useful Experience

In relational theology, "finding" God's will is a technically wrong concept. The phrase, "Finding God's will", seems to have an underlying assumption that there is such a thing as destiny which is really a pagan concept (see my Sermon on Sermon Outline: Seeking God’s Will with Joy and Anticipation!). However, "finding" is a broad term and we would like it here to mean, "seeking the mind of God" for the next step in our spiritual journey and its impact on our daily affairs and our earthly pilgrimage.

In my personal experience, I have seen MORE Christians frustrated in their attempt to find God's will for their lives than those who are fully convinced and joyful that they already are in God's will for their lives. It is unfortunate that among this group are pastors and full-time Christian workers. It is also unfortunate, that in my personal experience, it seems that only 1/10 of my Christian friends seem convinced of God's will for their lives! 90% don't seem too happy!

God’s will is not a process of predicting the wining numbers of lotto and then betting on it. Classical Theology has the mistaken assumption that God's Omniscience includes Foreknowledge. We have another blog, Omniscience is Limited by Divine Definition, Design and Example, which differentiates between the two and gives the reason why. Accurately predicting the winning numbers in a lotto requires foreknowledge.

God’s will is more of finding the best direction and course of action under real circumstances, but with the knowledge that the Creator created (designed) you for a purpose or role in this world. This requires Omniscience and Omni-competence.

The fact that God created us for a purpose seems to be expected of an All-wise, All-Intelligent and All-knowing creator. However, it is more of a biblical rule that God does not force that design on His creation, although He guides and prompts them toward it when they are in relationship with Him.

On our own personal journeys in this life, God's Omniscience is what gives Him all the information He needs to guide us, and it is God's Omni-Competence that helps us wiggle through the options including passing through the right detours and avoiding the wrong ones. All this happens only when man is in relationship with God as the branches are attached to the Vine (John 15:1-11).

It is a false concept that if we walk with God, we go straight to His will for our lives. There is absolutely no evidence of this in the Bible record. Even the Lord Jesus Christ went through the temptation in the wilderness and the Spirit was the One that led Him there (but this happened to demonstrate that Christ was sinless and had absolute dependence upon God when He was Incarnate). God knows our frame, He works through our imperfections (a great evidence for God's Omni-competence!), as a rule refuses to force us in any way, and always prompting and guiding us towards the goal (with the view of not sacrificing other goals or priorities that are included in our own personal realities).

Although it is highly possible that God has an ultimate will for our lives, nevertheless it is rare biblically nor in real life that He points us there right away. God's will involves more detours than a straight path.  David is a good example.  One of God's ultimate will for him was to be king of Israel (although it is possible that it would never been conceived if King Saul was faithful to God).  After Samuel anointed David to be future king, he did not immediately seat on the throne nor did David attempt to.  If we diligently follow David's path through the Samuels, Chronicles and the Psalms, we can discern that David went through several detours or intermediate steps before he finally became King, many of these in fact were severe trials which turned out to be David's training ground for becoming king.

Other good examples are Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Daniel, Ruth, Nehemiah, etc.

These intermediate steps or detours are REALLY God's will for a particular season in one's life. Many times, God's ultimate will is not clear, or perhaps there is really no ultimate will other than our conformity to the image of Christ.  However, God ALWAYS shows us the NEXT STEP in our lives when we are in constant relationship with Him.  When we are in constant relationship with God as a branch abides in the vine, God is full of joy and so are we.  God also has an easier time leading us or pointing to us the next step as we are especially sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The point in this life is not so much knowing God's will but enjoying the process of getting there.  God wants our joy to be full. Jesus said so, so many times in His last earthly days in the book of John. The interruptions in our lives may be God's will for us for that particular season!
What stresses us out about interruptions is our very own presumption (and arrogance) that we know better than God how our time should be spent.

The key verse for the subject of seeking the mind of God for the next step in our journey is Psalm 119:105, 

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
         And a light to my path.".

A lamp at night can only show you the next step or the next few steps.  It is not like the sun that reveals everything.  Why is this so?  Relationship...relationship...relationship! That is the point of God.  If he showed us the end game right away, it is highly probable that we would just go on our merry way and rarely consult with God again.  However, because God is relational, He has it ordained that only the next step will show, which will test our faithfulness and obedience.  A positive response from us will redound to God revealing the next steps and so on and so forth.  But with this method we consult with Him every step of the way.  And every step of the way we practice relationship with Him, we seek His presence, we exercise faith and obedience thereby growing in it and growing in our relationship with Him.

Now, a word on destiny.  There is no scriptural foundation for such a concept unless one stretches the application of predestination and foreordination which we explain in another blog. One should be wary of this concept for it is no different essentially from the Islamic fascist who would kill innocents without compunction and declare it as God's will (destiny). Such was the prevalent belief during the Crusades (the dark ages) to the utter shame of the church especially the Roman Catholic church, where Christians were the terrorists and Muslims were the innocent victims of wanton and merciless violence.

.....under development. I assure you this will make your Personal God of the Bible exciting!

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