Monday, May 21, 2007

The Will of God

Today's opening prayer (the gist of it, anyway) is: "Lord, send the power of your Holy Spirit upon us that we may remain faithful and do your will in our daily lives."
But what exactly does "the will of God" mean? According to one line of thought, God has everything worked out already, and we pray to know "the will of God" so that we might follow the pre-established plan inso far as it relates to us (and therefore not mess up our own lives). This approach has its plus sidees, but it can also provoke real anxiety: how do I know I got it right? Depending on my personality, I might assume an attitude of fatalism ("It was the will of God" risks meaning much the same as "It was meant to be" or "It was karma"); or I might try to avoid making decisions; or I could even think about making a vow of obedience so that someone else can worry about discerning the will of God, relieving me of all responsibility (what a diminished understanding of obedience that is!). I might even reject God tout court for giving me a freedom that has no meaning, since my path ois more like a maze than a relationship.
All of these spiritual dangers are related to the notion of "the will of God" as something apart from the God who wills. It is as if the "will" of God were a document or a rule, and not the living presence of God with us in every situation, willing that we grow in love and grace.
It might be to our spiritual advantage to change our language a bit. Instead of talking about "the will of God" as an objective monolity, we can focus on what God wants in a particular set of circumstances: what God wants for, from and of each of the persons directly involved and each of the persons who will be indirectly touched by the situation.
The prophet Micah gives us a good sense of what it is that God wants; of what "the will of God" is:

Only to do what is right,
to love loyalty,
and to walk humbly with your God.

"Lord, send the power of your Holy Spirit upon us that we may remain faithful and do your will in our daily lives."
Since the Holy Spirit is love, we are not so much asking to know the route of a pre-set maze as we are asking how we might make our life and activity a free and complete gift in love to God, whatever the circumstances that arise "in our daily lives."


canary said...

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Biblically challenged said...

Let's hear it for the prophet Micah for the simplification of God's will.