Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's will (and bust) or bust

I wonder what Abraham felt like when he was following through to obey God's command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Scripture doesn't tell us, but we can imagine since Abraham was no less human than all the rest of us.

I believe it's important to obey God, even when we don't understand. Do you ever get a sense, and I'm talking generally about a repeated sense over time, that you should do such and such, or not do such and such, but all kinds of good "scriptural" arguments would suggest to you otherwise, and because the arguments do make sense you abandon what you sensed was God's will. I'm afraid that can be a problem for us.

Some things really are obviously wrong, if you get to the core or root of the issue. On those matters, I think we need to do what the Israelites were called to do: sacrifice to God or put to death that which is devoted to destruction being under God's judgment. This is not easy since more often than not we're talking about idols that we've entertained in our hearts. But no matter how hard it is, we need to do it.

This leads me to this important point: This will be hard- maybe even excruciating, and one often feels like they're lost when doing this. What we need to hang on to, and therefore hang in there for is the consolation of the grace and peace of God in our endeavor to obey him in the matter. Of course this involves change, repentance. And it means a new way of life, a refusal to return to the old way. It's important that we hang on hard to this in the short term, so that it ends up being long term, and therefore really a change for us.

Are we willing to give up that which may be nearest and dearest to us? And are we willing to let go of, yes- put to death all that is sinful, that matter which is sin? To not go there or be a part of that anymore? These are questions we must face before God. And then we must choose to live in a new way, in fellowship with God and with each other, in the way of Jesus.

What thoughts might you add here?


Michel said...

Ah, God's will... How many countless lines have already been written on this topic, how many ill-fated decisions have been justified, how many sincere lives destroyed by 'God's will'. In the 20+ years I've been a follower of Christ, I've never heard God's voice articulating his will to me. Many things in the past I believed to be God's will, I see now differently. I have come to the conclusion, that it is not as important to seek God's will in my life as it is to live my life according to Jesus' two most important commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself". If we live in these commandments, we live in God's will.

Michel said...

Just ran across this text in Mme de Guyon's Booklet 'A Short and Easy Method of Prayer' to illustrate my point above:

"Love" saith S. Augustine, "and then do what you please". For when we truly love, we cannot have so much as a will to anything that might offend the Object of our affections.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Michel, Excellent words. I put up your quote of Augustine on our screensaver at work, on the main computer.

Yes, I do think people get in an unncessary tizzy at times trying to find the will of God or decipher it in a given situation.

At the same time I still believe we can have a sense of something that while we can't say for sure it is of God, over time may convince us that this is what God wants.

On top of that, we're experts, I myself anyhow in self-deception. We need to embrace God's will and the word here, I think is needing discernment from the word of God and the Spirit through prayer, the church, and however else God may work in seeking to get through to us.

I wonder about Abraham's trip to the mount with Isaac, knowing what he was soon to do.

As you so well say, it's all a matter of truly loving God and then from that truly loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Anonymous said...

ted, will you please read "good morning" todays post on this walk blog. it is interesting how your post today and hers overlap in a way.
be with God, nancy

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, So far I can't find what you're referring to. Can you send me the link?

Anonymous said...

oh! woops.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, I appreciate her thought there. I do believe that at times we have to look at what's wrong, but we do that best in the light of what's right, which ends up being found in Jesus.

Even so the process can be a difficult one, though we must have our faith fixed on the promises of God in Christ.

Anonymous said...

i sense over time things that have been put aside. especially, like a year later or so when i think something and at once i think...hey, i would never have thought that a year ago, or done that a year i see some change in my attitude and actions over time. not always realizing the changes until later. the Spirit has done work in me and sometimes it is a surprise even to me! remember that old phrase from the early 70's ..."keep on trukin" well my phrase is..."keep on following". yes, it is very good to live in the way and with a mind like Jesus. God be with you.

Lorna (see through faith) said...


We shouldn't go against scripture - but - and this is the interesting thing - ethical choices might make us do that. For example murder is wrong. So is lying. If you lie to save a life is it ok. I think so -because we value human life more than the truth.

Or you steal a loaf of bread to feed the poor. It might be right. Of course maybe if you'd asked the baker or grocer he'd have given it ...

but what I think you are writing about is not necessarily ethics -it's something deeper - it's about calling.

And I'm reminded how the first beleivers - and later ones, Wesley comes to mind - seemed to disobey man (Rome, the CofE) in order to obey God.

Follow Him. Everything else will fall into place.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Thanks for sharing that. Yes, keep on for all of us. And it is good to see over time the change the Lord brings.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Lorna, Thanks for that. Reminds me of Bonhoeffer's wrestling to discern and live in the will of God. It was ongoing and had to do with our take or perception and often misperception of what that will is.

This can be a real struggle. Partly because there is a wrestling going on with deep matters of the heart and life. But also partly because of God's strange hand in our lives, strange to us at times.

Every Square Inch said...

Abraham was willing to sacrifice in a way I cannot even imagine but God mercifully provided a sacrifice instead. That's the gospel, isn't it?

A payment required of us, greater than we can bear but God provides the payment at His own cost.

From Abraham's perspective, it wasn;t just that he was willing to let go, but also that he trusted that God would raise Isaac from the dead

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, ESI, I was thinking of that too, but didn't bring it up in the post. But it really is of profound and seminal significance, to be sure.

Resurrection and new creation in Jesus follow all death in Jesus here. And we can begin to live this out with reference to all things here and now.

Though the process can be excruciating at times, but we can press past that to begin to experience the joy of this new life in Jesus. But never do we get beyond the need for death in Jesus here.