On the Church, The Individual, and Free Will in Fresh Perspective
The Will of God: Organic Questions to Static Answers
What is the will of God for my life? Am I following God’s plan for me?
These questions are often the way we think about the will of God in our own lives. We stop to think of a static previously written book, even some Arminians may feel as tough the Lord has called them to a slightly pre-chosen destination for their own lives, that God has written the book or is in the process of writing and needs them to cooperate to the statically set will. We should be conformed to the image of Christ, and we should seek to honor God with our members, but this does not mean that we must have been set on a static one way track that requires of us absolute conformity.
The will of God is not a predetermined essence that requires of us absolute adherence to a book that has been prewritten, but rather, it can be thought of as organic and fluid. How often do we forget that among spiritual gifts are listed, helps and service as well as love. These things are not necessarily predetermined or prewritten essences of us, especially in context of our using such things for the benefit of the church. I think that what the New Testament apostles were doing was not to establish the spiritual gifts for all time in writing, even the ones charismatics tend to forget, such as giving, helps, service, teaching and several others. I think that what was going on is that the New Testament writers saw that people’s natural predispositions were being given over to the spirit for cultivation and this was producing incredible acts of charity, of teaching, of giving, evangelism, compassion and love.
The will of God was and is that the kingdom should come to the earth as it is in heaven, and this is met by us as we become the new humanity in our ability to embrace our dispositions to different things that we enjoy as we turn them over to God.
What I think was going on was the new testament writers observed people being empowered and energized by the spirit to do things that were amazing, but inexplicably natural, such as just giving, may be seen as a natural act of kindness, but they discerned a spiritual power in that giving. They saw in the people a spiritual empowerment unnatural to things as they previously were.
Ultimately the will of God is this, offer your member, faculties, intentions, disciplines, purposes, talents, abilities personality quirks and even tastes to God. By offer, I do not mean sacrifice, but rather, allow them to develop by the spirit into an expression that serves the living God.
There are times when things are necessary and we must necessarily surrender something good for a time so that we can live unto God. But these things are exceptions, not necessarily the rule. We cannot be deceived into thinking that it is more spiritual or more holy to stop doing those things which we love in order to serve God. The will of God is not a book, He is open and willing, and if he has truly given us free will then it is evident in that we can choose to offer up our members to him and they will be empowered by the spirit for the good of all people.
Our lives are commonly preached by our elders and more conservative generations as inconsistent, or incomplete, without stability, to and fro, double minded, sometimes inadequate. I do not believe this to be the case, not at all. I think that rather, we are seeing people become more aware of their loves and trying to empower those loves in service to God. God’s plan for our lives is the eventual conformity of us into the image of his son, but if humans were originally created in the image of God, then why the diversity of races, ideas, passions and intellects?
I find that I myself don’t often take this into account when thinking about the will of God. Rather than thinking of the conformity to the image of Christ as a cumulative loss of identity, we should think of the trinity, and realize that God is diverse in action but unified in purpose, revealed as the community of three in one.
Cannot the living God do the same in those whom He loves? Cannot then this God diversify our actions but unite us in the spirit. The New Testament gives us glimpses into early church life, and i think what we see is variegated and wholly differing churches and gifts, and services and evangelisms, and ideas, yet all are united by one faith, one hope, one baptism, one Lord, one body, one spirit.
Paul goes on to say that there is one God that unites everything, and is through everything, the everything in everything. This does not preach the gospel of modernism, the contentment with the herd mentality, it does not ask for conformity in our idea of the word, it does not ask us to be another brick in the wall, but another conduit for intuitive and organic work of the spirit to flourish individually, for each according to their members.
We are they who are one in many, many in one, and everything everywhere, we are in the air, we are in the sea, you can feel us in the wind, hear us in the trees, we are the one and the many, we are united in diversity and by our difference we expand through awakening others to their own potential, we are the manifold chorus of symphonic voices reverberating, resonating, everything, everywhere, different, unique, unrepeatable, ineffable, we are the sacred, the holy, the united, we are the arts themselves, creating arts and spreading light, igniting in all a passion for individual expressions of light for unity amidst the diversity of the many, you can feel us in a raindrop and hear us in the roar of the oceans.
Free will serves to allow us to diversify our gifts to God by choice, the more we acquire, the more it is that we can offer, and again not in giving them up, but by inviting them to be empowered by the spirit. So to offer a corrective to myself, the more we acquire and engage in, the more dwellings we can invite the spirit to fill, empower, and enlarge.
Destiny is simply this, that we would invite the spirit of Christ to inhabit our dwellings, our members, our faculties, our intentions passions, habits, creative expressions, careers and concepts. Their being flooded with light is what is truly predestined, for it is the will of God to fill and empower those diverse expressions which are found in ourselves.
This is not to say that everything is up to choice as “the spirit” (we don’t always know which spirit it is in some cases) leads.There are necessary events, necessary things that take place as well.
To use a rather limited metaphor, think of the will of god and us in it as the water in a stream or a river. There are stones we will come up against that will alter our paths, and necessarily shift our directions. There are times when God will ask us to surrender that which is good, so that which he desires may be done. There are times when we surrender the good, when God calls us to sacrifice, but there are times when we are free to explore, to develop and to cultivate.
This is the true investment of the talents, to explore and cultivate a variety of interests and use them for the kingdom. The one servant who was given one talent necessarily rejected the need to interact with the world, forgot to take into account a risk of being in the world, but being able to cultivate something out of it.
The parable of the talents to me asks us to cultivate something out of our experiences in the world and to bring back with us, more than we left with. What I mean in short, is that the parable teaches us to want to acquire more, but not at the risk of empty colonization, but rather, through interaction with risk and the possibility of failure, we see that we are empowered to take chances, to explore different avenues of bringing back more to ourselves and to our God than we left with.
Thus free will empowers us to choose our interactions and what we wish to bring back to ourselves, but as we bring things back to ourselves, we invite the spirit to help us choose, or to help us by inhabiting what we have already acquired.
This by no means is an end all, say all, but can be a good starting point for fresh discussions. I hope that this begins to open new doors for fresh insights, in my own life personally, as well as those who would read this.