Christians have a fascination with knowing God’s will for many reasons. For one, the chance (not saying it’s true) to control your own destiny is appealing. There’s an entire industry of books written on this topic–four hundred thousand and counting. Included in the mix are countless bible studies on learning the will of God solidifying the idea the more you know about God’s will the closer you will be to God.
As a church we are immersed in this journey of joining God in the Kingdom dream already unfolding around us. We too strive to understand what God is doing in our midst and what role we play in that plan–but with a twist.
“Knowledge is power,” but knowing is different than doing.
Just read a book or take a class and upload the data to become proficient, or so the thinking goes. On one end of the spectrum we can get stuck in a perpetual state of, “if I knew a little bit more about topic X, then I could finally do ______________.” The end result usually ends up with doing nothing at all.
The other end of the spectrum is experience. Both knowledge and experience work together. There are no doctors who haven’t spent years in school coupled with years in residency. It’s similar to parenting where no amount of books prepares you for the real thing. Like riding a bike, you never would learn how to ride by watching a Youtube video. You get on and ride, but not only do you learn, this hands on learning sticks. Chances are you could get on a bike 10 years later and still know how to ride.
Why is it then when it comes to matters of faith we switch gears? Practice is outweighed by information?
For centuries the predominant form of church worship was/is centered around information download. Sit and listen to a sermon to learn more about God which equates to becoming closer to God.
We usually treat our faith as something we ‘have’ and could therefore ‘lose’. We even describe our faith in such a way that requires rationalization. Does it, or must it, fit in with science? Is it convenient in my daily life?
I contend faith isn’t something you have, but rather, something you DO and then work out to believe.
Scripture echoes this idea. In Hebrews 11 there’s both, a belief aspect, but then an entire chapter where the ‘heroes of the faith’ are lauded for their activity.
Knowing God’s will, and the depth of our faith is coupled with activity (doing faith).
This isn’t a call to ‘more’ stuff to add to our already full lives, (it may require reorientation), but this is a plan for a journey that is inextricable linked to community on the same pursuit
Many are familiar with Romans 12:1-2. We capture a good balance on what the pursuit of God’s will looks like. If there’s a simple answer to this question then it’s found here.
The key piece to knowing God’s will, something we have to work out, is preceded by our activity in worship.
Do first, then know. Romans 12 verse 3 and beyond offers a clear idea what this doing looks like: don’t think too highly of yourselves, think soberly, act out your gifts, live out tangible love, celebrate hope, patience, etc., etc., etc.
How that looks like specifically for you I’m not sure. In our own unique way (connected in community as mentioned before) we offer ourselves to be agents of transformation and therefore transformed in the simplicity of the one act, one moment, the capturing of that one choice we make that echoes God’s unfolding Kingdom. We have to trust, slowly at first no doubt, God’s in our midst regardless of what choices we make.
What does your path look like? Many of us are or have struggled at some point with the validity of our faith, asking whether it’s something we could do without? It’s easier to conclude, “yes”, if our faith is in our head.
Because at first glace it seems easier. It’s harder to be patient, kind, and loving. It’s easier to think about loving thy neighbour than actually loving thy neighbour.
It’s may be harder, but it’s better.