Is it an event or a lifestyle?
Lifestyle Versus Event
Today's society is very event led; life seems quite dull unless we are doing something. Recent politics have emphasised performance related pay. At the same time many modern churches have a stringent programme of activity. The result of this can inadvertently lead to a person’s worth being measured by what they do. It can also make us believe that God is ‘programme-based’ in his love for us. We often associate God’s will as an event, i.e. doing this or that, going here or there, apply for this job, marry that person and so on... ‘God’s will’ can include specific instruction, but more often it is to do with relationship, lifestyle, and nurture.
It is God’s will for us to have an intimate and close relationship with him.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Jeremiah 30:21 I will bring him near, and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD.
Knowing God’s will does not necessarily equate with activity. Sometimes God withholds his plans from us so that we will master the art of waiting. Waiting on God is an essential ingredient to knowing God’s will. Many people want to bypass the waiting and get straight into the doing. For some people, doing nothing is a waste of time, for God our inactivity is a vital element in getting to know him.
Psalm 119:166 I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands.
Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Activity without intimacy is of little importance. It’s not uncommon for people to want to know God’s will more than they actually want to know God! Activity is an event; relationship is a process. We cannot effectively hear God’s voice or do God’s will unless we have first learned the art of knowing God. It’s like having the benefits of sexual pleasure without the security of a loving relationship, or like a farmer reaping a great harvest without first labouring over the crop.
Knowing God’s requires intimacy, time, and commitment. There are no shortcuts to doing God’s will. Many Christians fall away because they have become bored, impatient, or distracted. Others spend so much time trying ‘to do’ God’s will that they simply burn themselves out.
Isaiah 40: 29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD, shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Doing the will of God is much more about being the right person rather than doing the right things. People often focus on life-events rather than the process of a sanctified life. God is much more interested in ‘who we are’ than he is in ‘what we do’. It’s easy to get caught up with Christian activity and neglect the importance of Christian character.
It is God’s clear will that we:
Be financially responsible (Luke 12:21)
Live by faith, not by sight (Rom 1:17)
Live a life of sacrifice and service (Rom 12:1)
Renew our minds (Rom12:2)
Transform the way we live (Rom12:2)
Fellowship with other believers (Rom 15:32)
Give ourselves fully to God (2 Cor 8:5)
Do the best job for our employer (Eph 6:6)
Stand firm, and remain standing (Col 4:12, Eph 6:13)
Mature into strong believers (Col 4:12)
Have a servant attitude (Phil 2:5)
Avoid sexual immorality (1 Thes. 4:3)
Live a pure life (1 Thes. 4:3)
Rejoice in every circumstance (1 Thes 5:18)
Keep our eyes on Jesus – the perfect example (Heb 10:7, 12:2)
Persevere in the work (Heb 10:36)
Do good to all men (1 Peter 2:15)
Understand that God’s will includes suffering (1 Peter 4:19)
Be faithful in prayer (1 John 5:16)
Most of these verses are direct references to the ‘will of God.’ There are, however, simply hundreds of other commandments on how we should live our lives. It is God’s will that we honour our parents, tell the truth; that we should be kind, generous, and gentle. We should be calm, temperate, and full of compassion. The list goes on and on.
It is clear that our attention needs to be on our character and personal development rather than ‘activity or events.’ It is God’s will, first and foremost, that we live a life that is a true reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants us first of all to be pure, blameless, and holy.
In Part 5 we see the need to be nurtured in discipleship.