There is a common thought, a philosophy, that resides deep in the hearts of modern Christians. It is based on upon our belief that the will of God always finds its completion. Somehow, some way, through someone, God will be certain to accomplish what He desires.
This line of thought is used by many as a way to excuse themselves from the pressing call of God on their hearts and lives. Afraid of the unknown, they look for a back door or a loophole that will give them permission to ignore that press of the Holy Spirit.
Two issues arise from the presence of this philosophy. Do we really see this expression of the will of God in Scripture? And what happens when we take ourselves out of the equation of the fulfillment of God’s will? But first, let’s look at what this belief is and how it permeates Christ’s Church.
This line of thought isn’t all that complicated, but it does hold a great deal of power. Though it may be expressed differently, you may have heard it said like this: “If I don’t do it, God will find someone else to do it.” Take a look at how it might have taken shape in a life you know.
In church on Sunday morning you see that the children do not have a place to learn about God at their own level of understanding. One day you realize that there should be a Sunday School or a Kids’ Church program for them. But you don’t feel qualified to do that. And you figure that if you noticed and came up with a plan, it won’t be long before the pastor or someone more prepared will see it and get a program going.
During the announcements one day the pastor asks the congregation to give a little extra this week. The church copier needs repair and new parts. The snow removal bill is piling up. The parsonage had some unexpected repairs and was burning too much oil, so a repairman was through last week. Unfortunately, offerings are down and the church just doesn’t have the funds to pay all of these, no matter how important or pressing they are. So you pull out your wallet and grab a spare ten dollar bill. In the back of your head you know you could write a check to pay for one or all of those needs, still you put in that ten dollars. You think God will take care of the rest and everyone else has their own share to put in.
This week at work you found out that the guy in the next cubicle is moving away and Friday is his last day in the office. Though you don’t spend time together outside of work except for the occasional run to the Chinese buffet for lunch, the two of you consider each other friends. You haven’t actually talked about it, but you can tell from your conversations that he doesn’t know about Jesus. Now you only have a few days before you never see him again. You wish you could be bold and tell him about your faith, but you’re scared. Besides, you figure that if God really wants him to be saved, God will find a way to make it happen. If you don’t tell this guy, God will bring someone else to do it.
The Way We Learn
These are some everyday examples of how this philosophy of God’s will takes shape in our lives. At times it seems inconsequential or justifiable, like in the in the case of the need for a child-focused program at church. Other times it’s just fair or logical, like when you give to a financial need. And then there are those eternity-impacting moments and choices, the big ones that have powerful consequences for ourselves and others.
In our brains we believe that each situation is different. “Starting a children’s program is no where near the importance of a friend’s salvation.” “Giving my hard-earned money is my own business.” But the truth is that our responses to the “little” situations prepare our hearts and minds to respond to the “big” ones. The more we “pass the buck” in those areas of life that are more subjective there is a greater likelihood that we will pass along the responsibility of the bigger issues in life.
It’s a simple matter of recognizing the way we learn. Before you learn multiplication you learn how to add. First comes the alphabet, then you can learn to read and write. You might have the smartest phone in the world, but if you don’t know how to make a call it will not be much good to you.
Remember the lesson Jesus taught about the man who entrusted his money and goods to his servants (Matthew 25:14-30). Each one was tested according to his ability to see if he would be faithful with greater responsibility. To the two that passed the test, the master said, “Well done. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”
For some reason we refuse to admit that our failure to understand or apply the little things disqualifies us from being able to understand or apply the big things. We compartmentalize the small issues from the big issues and believe that we will get it right when it really matters. Yet reality teaches the opposite.
Until I practice the fundamentals every day I will not be equipped to use them under pressure. If I do not practice my piano scale fingerings or learn how to read music I will not be able to play a classical concerto. A soldier who doesn’t know how to use and care for his weapon will not be ready for the battle, no matter how sharp, powerful or accurate that weapon is. No one expects to sign a contract in the National Basketball Association without being able to dribble, or in the National Hockey League without knowing how to ice skate.
It is the same with God and His ways. We will not able to apply the truths of God to the greater problems of life until we learn to use them in the little, everyday, seemingly unimportant corners of life.
A Bigger Problem
And yet, it when it comes to this specific issue regarding the will of God, the real problem is even worse. Maybe we don’t realize it, but we have learned to apply this philosophy. In fact, we do it so well that it influence our small tasks as well as our important tasks. That is why we see the same results at every level. We truly believe that if God wants something, He will find a way to make it happen.
We don’t believe that the fulfillment of God’s will is dependent upon our involvement. “You don’t have to hear His voice. You don’t have to obey that feeling deep inside. If you don’t feel like you have what it takes, God will find someone who does.”
It is the lesson that is the root of our problem. We learned it well and we apply it flawlessly. But it is the wrong lesson. We must “unlearn what we have learned” and reprogram our hearts and minds with the proper foundation for handling these situations in our lives.