Your Will And God's Will Are Not Adversaries

When I was in middle school, my family attended a small independent, fundamentalist Baptist church in Colorado. I remember the pastor as a fairly likable guy. He was quick with a smile, always wore cowboy boots, and kind of looked like Elvis. 

But when he got into the pulpit, it was like an evil spirit would come over him.  I have a memory of listening to a recording of one of his sermons once.  I can't recall the context, but I distinctly remember a portion of what he shouted at the top of his lungs.  

"YOU'RE EVIL!  YOU'RE ROTTEN TO THE CORE!  YOUR MOUTH IS EVIL!  YOUR TEETH ARE EVIL!  YOUR TONGUE IS EVIL!"  

Needless to say, we didn't stay at that church very long.  You can only take so much of that kind of stuff and it starts to wear on you.  

My former pastor was convinced that the true nature of humanity was corrupt and terrible.  It informed every aspect of his life, and drove him to be an angry, judgmental, self-absorbed kind of Christian.  

Sadly, there are a lot of people who have let their understanding of Christianity be formed and informed by that kind of thinking.  They might not use the same fire and brimstone words as my former pastor, but the basic sentiment is still there.  

By way of comparison, read the following statement from 20th century theologian, Presbyterian missionary and author E. Stanley Jones:  

"My will and God's will are not adversaries... The will of God is always our highest interest.  I am fulfilled when I make Him my center."  

The difference is remarkable.  Jones doesn't shy away from acknowledging the holiness and "other-ness" of God, but in his words there's so much more hope, grace and room for God's love to grow within the heart of the Believer. 

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans he writes about the way God sees us, and uses these beautiful words that are found in The Message: 

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (Romans 5:1)

The essential message of Christianity is not how God deigns to stoop to our low estate in order to pluck us depraved and awful human beings from destruction if we do and say the right things.  

The essential message of Christianity is how God looks past our brokenness, our frail attempts at doing life on our own, and sees who we really are.  And in God's grace, mercy and love, he restores us to be the people God has always dreamed for us to be:  Our true selves.  

Go and be your true self today.  Live into the hope of God's Great Big Story of Redemption.  Look out into the world with a hopeful gaze.  Let your heart be opened to all those children of God around you, who desperately need to be told they are loved, forgiven and set free to fulfill God's dreams for their lives.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 




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