“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Rev. William Obalil once wrote: “I fear not many weekly churchgoers are equipped to integrate what we hear and affirm in church with the concrete choices faced each day – at home, school, work, and marketplace. The result is functional atheism.” Ouch!
We are challenged to live our lives as if God was really in charge; to make decisions based on what God’s will for us truly is. What a concept – to actually allow God to help us make our everyday decisions. For example, as we contemplate a particular purchase, we ask “Can I afford this?” but we do not ask, “Is this good stewardship of my money?”
Oh sure, we go to church, we pray, we read the Bible, we give our offering – we do all the things that look like faithful discipleship. The question is: Do we really allow God’s will to govern every single aspect of our lives? Do we think about God first – before we make a choice? Do we understand our lives within the framework of Christian categories like sin, grace, idolatry, peace, new creation, and agape love? Do we really allow our Christian faith to inform our “real life” outside of church?
I think that all of us sometimes get so caught up in “doing church” that we forget what it really means to have a close personal relationship with God. Discipleship is all about this real relationship with the God who created us, saved us, and remains with us even now. It’s all about getting know God, learning what God expects from us, learning what pleases God, and then actually living our lives with God’s will in the forefront of everything.
In Matthew 10:37, Jesus tells us that there is absolutely no relationship more important than the one we have with God. If we truly believe that and allow it to govern our lives, then every choice we make will consider God’s will first and our will second. That’s a tall order and it flies in the face of everything our culture tells us. Of course, we are called to live contrary to culture – see Paul’s words to the Romans above – we are called to discern and follow God’s will, not the will of 21st Century America. It’s not easy to do and all of us fall short time and time again. Christ came to rescue us from our dead-end way of thinking and living – he came to show us a new way of thinking and living. He also came to give us the power to learn how to do it. I pray that each one of us can learn to think like disciples of Jesus Christ so that we can live like disciples. Amen.