This past Wednesday I had the privilege of leading the freshmen bible study I run as a leader in Cru. I talked about Philippians 2: 19-30 and how Paul sent Timothy and Epaphroditus from Rome to Philippi and how Epaphroditus would be returning home after almost dying of illness. Epaphroditus came to Paul with a gift from Philippi, where he was thought to be a man of wealth and means. I told the freshmen in my study that the trip from Philippi to Rome was a journey of anywhere between 6 weeks to 3 months each way. I remarked how we should all follow God as Paul, Timothy, and more specifically here Epaphroditus. He was willing to reflect Christ by giving up his time, money, and comfort to go serve the Lord in a far and foreign place where he was needed. I urged them to consider the importance of the Gospel and how it is really all that matters. I asked them “If God said go, would you move?”.
God is always telling us to go, maybe not the specifics but the Great Commission makes it clear in Matthew 28: 18-20. These types of messages are always powerful, especially when you think you are used to letting God use you. I was good at letting God use me, or at least I thought I was. The thing is, God, demands to be praised on his terms in spirit and truth (John 4:24). We cannot worship God the way we want to always because often we look at things from a broken and worldly perspective. Though sometimes God makes exceptions such as in 2 Chronicles 30 where He cleans the unclean who enter his Temple because they sought to praise Him in truth.
I had almost become an expert on giving God my everything if it was of course on my terms. I’ve realized I have been telling the Lord, “I will run the race” as long as I could choose where to start, finish and whether I needed to practice. Metaphor aside, I feel as if I have something to confess. I have been worshipping God on my terms and I have been only willing to Go where I would tell him to send me. I have not been giving God, “fill in the blank” obedience but instead “multiple choice” obedience. I am willing to bet we all do this.
It is usually a good thing to be aware of your environment as a Christian and to ask God things such as, “Should I go to this Bible study or should I go to this Young Adults Ministry?”. Both would most likely honor God so either is okay. But often we become so routine in the asking of “this or that” that we stop listening to God altogether. Sometimes God wants you to get dinner with your best friend who is in desperate need of quality time and godly wisdom and we often ignore them because we told God we would do something else.
Now let me be clear on something that adds a side note of perspective to this. It is not our job to discover God’s will for our life always. Kevin DeYoung talks about this a lot in his book “Just Do Something”. He argues that God has a Decreed will (what he says goes), the desired will (how we should live our life), but not necessarily a directional will (or a specific and discoverable will for our life). God has, of course, plans for our lives but they are not usually ours to know. God wants us to walk by faith, in prayer, and in trust. He wants us to seek us in his word and live a life that reflects Christ as he works us towards himself in sanctification (or being made sanctified).
God made us in his image, which means he gave us minds and hearts that are capable of decision making, though due to our sinful nature that is tainted so we do need his assistance and help. Nonetheless, we are usually free to pick what we do and when we do it as long as we use the minds that the Lord gave us to do so. We must follow the Lord’s Moral will (as laid out in the bible) and live life in a way that reflects his goodness to our neighbor, friends, our family, our enemies, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow.
To close up Part 1 of 2 of this blog series I want to do a brief recap. God is good, and he calls us to go on mission for him according to His will. We can not give God terms and conditions for our obedience to Him, but instead must follow God with our full heart, mind, and spirit. I am not very good at this, which you will see in the next blog post!