Discerning God's Will - Part One - A God who Interacts with Us

This message began stirring in my head a couple weeks ago when a friend asked me for advice in figuring out God’s will. He came to me for advice on discerning God’s will in whether he should switch jobs to another job he had been offered. Then Lindsay and I were offered a house right where we want to live, but we only want to buy it if it is God’s will. So the thinking I was doing about knowing God’s will became much more relevant. Daily, as a pastor, I am faced with decisions about what our church should, and I meet with people wondering what God wants them to do with their lives. Most ministerial counseling stems from people not following God’s leading in some area of their life. The solution to their problems, whether they accept it or not, is typically to align themselves with God’s will. Our life is constantly filled with decisions, one after another. In every decision, God has a path.

Time magazine did a study asking people what they thought about God. The study showed that 40% of Americans believe in a God that does not interact with humanity. This is similar to our Founding Fathers. I know that there are many people out there who want to rewrite history and make our Founding Fathers Christian. The logic for them is that if the founders were Christians, then we have some legitimate claim to turn this nation back into a politically Christian nation, whatever that would look like. Some of the founders were Christian, but many of them were deists who believed that there was a Creator who created us with certain inalienable rights, but from that point on the Creator kept his distance.

This thought, of a distant, non-interacting God has even permeated the church, especially those of us in the Restoration Movement since we are a movement rooted in both Scripture and America. These Christians might not be deists in the sense that God stopped interacting with humanity after creation, but they are Bible deists in that they believe God stopped interacting with humanity after the writing of the New Testament. Albeit, a deist believes that God created a system in place for blessings if you live a life a certain way. In that deistic worldview, these blessings – they call it providence – are triggered by default actions and happen automatically, not by a loving God who actually interacts intimately with humanity and blesses them.

If we believe in a distant and aloof God, then it is no wonder that we would not seek His will for our life, for our community, and for our church. But that isn’t the type of God we believe in and have experienced. The Bible reveals to us that we serve a God who cares about us, guides us, and will honor us seeking His will in our lives. Too often our deistic nature wants us to view the Bible as a story of exceptions. What if instead of a book with exceptional stories, the Bible tells stories that are fairly normal of life with our exceptional God. The world will try to sell us false hope, but Jesus is the only one that can bring true change to our lives that will not disappoint. If we truly believe that, then we should live our lives surrendered to Him, seeking to bring about His will in the world. By doing that, we will live the best life possible.

It starts by us figuring out where God wants us to be and what God wants us to do; a question we do not need to wrestle with if we are some form of a deist. Discerning God’s will is easier said than done, so let me do the easy part the next few days and write about it.