Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just Do Something!

What is God’s will for your life?

Is that an easy question or a difficult one to answer?

I’ve been carrying Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something in my bag for past two weeks promoting it and passing it around because it’s full of good theology, it’s very short and it is extremely relevant. It will only cost you $10 and take 2 hours of your life, and if I were you I’d get online and buy one right now.

Hanging out on campus I hear students constantly talking about trying to “figure out God’s will.” Mostly, they are talking about the big life decisions like who does God want them to marry? Should they get married? They ask questions like “Am I studying the right thing, or does the Lord want me to change my major?” People pray and ask God to show them which internship to take, or where they should spend their summer. I wave the banner for summer missions and hear people say “I’ll pray and see if God wants me to go somewhere this year.” Some add, “I don’t want to go on a summer mission just because I think it’s a good idea, I want it to do what the Lord wants me to do.” It’s not just students who do this of course. Every time a Christian has a big decision they will talk about trying to discern God’s will.

And of course, in many ways this is a good thing! –except that there are so many misconceptions about how God operates and what God’s will is. And when you combine these skewed ways of thinking with all the many decisions we have to make these days, there can be lots of confusion. Paralyzing confusion actually. We can become so caught up in trying to find God’s will for this or that situation that we end up not doing anything! People become stagnant and ruled by fear. The question God cares about most is not “where should I live?” but “Do I love the Lord with all my heart?”

Life is more complicated than ever…..Seriously…… It actually is. So what should we do? And How should we think? DeYoung slices thru the confusion with right theology and exposes us anew to the revealed Word of God! Simply put, God’s will is your growth in Christlikeness…..the will of God for your life is pretty straightforward; Be holy like Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God.

And packing the punch of a Nike commercial, DeYoung exhorts us to get off our duffs and just do it! Passivity is a plague among Christians. It’s not just that we don’t do anything: it’s that we fell spiritual for not doing anything. We imagine that our inactivity is patience and sensitivity to God’s leading. At times it may be; but it’s also quite possible that we are just lazy.

Cutting to the chase often, Kevin clarifies things by asking questions like “Do we have a sneaky God?” He writes:

In the usual understanding of God’s will, he knows what we should do. He has the perfect plan for our lives. And He’ll hold us accountable if we don’t follow His will. But He won’t show us what that will is. [This] makes God into a tricky little deity who plays hide and seek with us.

Just to be clear, God does not hide things from His people. There are lots of scenarios we don’t know, lots of mysteries we can’t figure out. There is a will of decree that is not usually known to the people of God (Deut 29:29). But He is not trying to confuse us or hide the truth. In the conventional view of God’s will, however, we get the impression that He not only hides His will from us, but he then expects us to find it. So we obsess over God’s will of direction, eventually getting frustrated with God for not showing us what He wants. We end up disappointed with ourselves or angry with God because we can’t seem to figure out how to find God’s will for our lives.

He rightly points out the ways that we obsess over things that aren’t that important, and worry incessantly about the future. We are anxious because we don’t believe God! We don’t believe he is good. We don’t believe his ways are best. We don’t believe he rules the universe! We don’t believe he loves us. And we fix our minds not on things above but on issues that –eternally speaking are pretty relative. …when we pray…We aren’t asking for holiness, or righteousness, or an awareness of sin. We want God to tell us what to do so everything will turn out pleasant for us.

Constantly challenging our bad theology DeYoung says:

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gave us brains, shows us the way of obedience and invites us to take risks for him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds.

It’s not that God doesn’t care about the details of our lives; he certainly does. It’s just that in grand scheme of God’s purposes, some of the things we freak out about aren’t that big of a deal. Case in point, you can glorify God as an electrician or a plumber. We have this idea that we need to guess, or divine things perfectly somehow, and if we mess up our whole lives will be ruined. But The most important decision we face is the daily decision to live for Christ and die to self. God has revealed the most important things to us in the Bible. We won’t necessarily find which town to live in –and that doesn’t totally matter. God doesn’t expect us to grope in the dark for some hidden will of direction. He expects us to trust him and be wise. (The book has a lot of good things to say about wisdom and the book of Proverbs)

The only downside I can see with this book is that it could possibly encourage people who are normally very insensitive to the Holy Spirit, or who constantly ignore the power of God in their lives, always relying on themselves to stay that way. This book is not a primer on surrendering to the Spirit’s guidance, though it doesn’t decry that either. It’s just that this is topically dealing with God’s revealed word and our responsibility to live actively in light of what’s been communicated to us.

In the foreword, Joshua Harris calls this his “go to book” for anyone who comes to him with a big decision to make. I agree with Harris, and in light of the context in which I do ministry (college students) I regard this as a real jewel. In the second to last chapter, DeYoung walks thru how to think about two of the biggest issues college students wrestle with: Who should I marry, and What/where should I work. Every college minister needs a stack of these books to give away!

Below are a couple more quotes that I liked.

Wisdom, in Proverbs, is always moral. The fool, the opposite of the wise person, is not a moron or an oaf. The fool is the person who does not live life God’s way. Wisdom is knowing God and doing as He commands.

God is interested in more than getting us to follow His to-do list; He wants transformation. God doesn’t want us to merely give external obedience to his commands. He wanst us to know Him so intimately that His thoughts become our thoughts, His ways our ways, His affections our affections. God wants us to drink so deeply of the scriptures that our heads and hearts are transformed so that we love what He loves and hate what He hates.

Esther (in the Bible) was more man than most men I know, myself included. Many of us –Men and women –are extremely passive and cowardly. We don’t take risks for God because we are obsessed with safety, security and most of all, with the future.

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