Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Andy said something that I don't think he meant to say and then used a verse of scirpture in a way that I thought would be worth adding as a dimension to the discussion.

"I think people spend way too much time saying, "what does God want ME to do,"

and then later;

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD , "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD."

Although a popular verse in evangelical Christianity, used frequently to comfort a believer struggling with understanding what God is doing with their life, the original intent of the verse is dealing with the elected people of Israel. That being the case, God had a specific plan for the people of Israel, one he directly revealed to them on a very consistent basis; to create an intimate relationship with them (which they already had when Jeremiah prophisies) and to bless the whole world through them. Thus, for the Israelite, the word of the Lord is encouragement here, knowing that while the people of Israel may currently be ridiculed and viewed as the lowest of society, Yahweh will indeed be doing great things, prosperous things for them.

Now then, two points of aplication.

1. Twisting Andy's words to fit the context of this verse, where should a vision of God's will be focused? According to this verse there is an emphasis on God implimenting his will on behalf of a community. Thus, it may be best used to point out to the church that God has a plan to use the body of Christ to exhibit himself to the world around them. So, in this sense, Andy is right to say that we should move beyond the entire What's God's Will for ME? question, not necessarily ignoring the first but at least not limitting it to that. What is God's will for the American church? What is God's will for Huntington College? These are interesting quesitons that seem to lead to have all the complexities of the individualized question.

2. God's specific plan for Israel was for them to be prosporous and to be the people through whom Christ would come. They were to usher in the king. To use this verse to say that God has specific plans to prosper anyone else is filacious. There is, however, a president for insight into our conversation. According to this passage we are promised to find God if we seek after him, yet this does not make any promises on God revealing his will to us.

Let me further explain. It sounds in both of your posts that you're hesitent to believe that God indeed has something that he wants me to do. Rather, God is more concerned with me seeking after him and maximizing the abilities and passions he has given me. I disagree. This is, if anything, a lurking sense of a cultural deism and an overendulgment of freedom. It feels like we as evangelicals are saying that God has very little interest in what steps I actually take with my life and that so long as I'm seeking after him it is impossible that I would do anything other than what he desires.

To Dusty's very practical and perhaps most wise suggestion that we should seek after God and seek after our passions and needs around us- While this is perhaps the easiest way to live life feeling as though we are completing God's will, what about the possibility that God desires us to play a seemingly meaningless part in life that is only meaningless in our immediate circumstances. It is, indeed, possible that God would desire me to do otherwise then that which I'm passionate about simply to bring about something much larger then what my passion fulfilled life would fulfill.

To Andy's at least refrencing to the idea that God has plans of prosperity and happiness for our lives I believe that I can point out many circumstances where exactly what God has called individuals to is suffering and failure. While sometimes these failures are wraught so that the individual can experience true success, often they may have a "bigger good". This, then, confirms the idea that God works all things to the good but denies that he is working all of my life to my own personal good.

What am I getting at? It seems like the easiest answers to this question are unsatisfying. On the one hand I am entirely displeased with a viewpoint that says "whatever happens is God's will" yet on the other hand I feel like saying "so long as I seek after God I will be in his will" is almost short changing God having a specific plan that includes the sort of specific planning as seen in the Gospel retellings of Jesus' life. I think that both Andy and especially Dusty have done a good job at showing how we live out a life seeking God's will but have presented a limited perspective on what God may in fact be willing. I believe that chasing down an idea of what God wants me specifically to do seems foolish compared to just seeking Jesus, that is until life puts us at points where these decisions must be made. Then I find that following after Jesus fails to provide the clarity of God's calling that I desire. I suppose that this is where the conversation splits into two other topics- God's silence and God's grace. For whatever reason, if God is desiring specific things from my life he is not very obvious about that and further we must believe that God is gracious toward our failure to comply with what he may be desiring us to do when we fail to follow on that. Enough for now, sorry for the long post.


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