Thy Will Be Done (Really?)

Thy Will Be Done (Really?)
Written by: Pete McClanathan

Recent Sunday morning teachings, as part of the First 40 Days prayer journey, have reacquainted us with familiar words in Matthew 6. What we’ve come to call the “Lord’s Prayer” is best understood as a topical instruction on prayer; a model to direct our minds and hearts as we approach the Lord.

Very early in the passage we find “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10). What comes to mind when reading those words?

Certain things appear quickly: sanctity of life, sexual behavior, evangelism, caring for others, religious freedom, a more “Christian” culture, and many more.

All of these are worthy topics for our prayer and our thoughts. I wonder, though, if we don’t easily overlook something broader and deeper, something more personal and perhaps disquieting.

We may feel a sense of purpose when we challenge the problems “out there” in the world and the people involved, and in a sense we would be right. God’s call always is to righteousness. But do we remember where He in His Word points the focus of the call to righteousness?

We will find a wealth of scriptures that speak to these matters, and all weave themselves together in a loud and clear message. We have to begin somewhere, and I’ve chosen Gal. 6-4:  “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is not, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone, and not in his neighbor.”

Continue on and you will find Gal 6:14: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

And now it becomes difficult. Drawing primarily from my own experiences and observations, I wish to share serious thoughts. No one is being targeted personally, but I hope you will accept the challenge to examine yourself in the light of God’s Word. 

The Bible was written to and for God’s people. Not to the world. If you and I claim to be followers of Christ, we are accountable to all that is written there.

Note the themes of the Old Testament closely. Throughout, God deals with His own people first and foremost. Whether a patriarch, a leader or king, an ordinary Hebrew, or even a prophet, we see God addressing the things within His people that do not conform to His character.

And we find that every personal failure or national calamity can be traced to a refusal to heed God’s instruction and warning. It comes in the form of neglect or casual treatment of God’s commands, or outright disobedience. And it becomes the root of the flagship sins that drive all others: idolatry and unbelief.

We also observe another troubling truth. We find God withholding His favor, even His protection, when His people disregard the clear statements of His character and will.

We pray often for revival, whether in our lives, our church, our land, our world. Do we, though, take seriously our own roles in bringing revival? Is it possible that the Lord may be withholding His hand in order to bring us to closer examination of our own lives? That he desires an attention and obedience that we take far too casually?

I suggest that there has been a tendency among evangelical Christians to relax in our salvation and disregard much of what is written to us. I can begin with myself. We can be confident in our salvation and stop there. We can become comfortable with the many good things we do, whether it be teaching sound doctrine, operating a church well, giving generously of our resources and time for good things, helping others, seeking the lost in the world, speaking out on critical social issues, or our generally clean behavior. All very good things. But the Bible does not permit us to hide behind those things, however good, in place of humble submission before Christ in all things. This includes our attitudes, our priorities, our decisions, our use of time, our reactions to people and events, our speech, our actions, and our treatment of others. Could it be that God’s will is much broader than we usually think?

Many years ago I read a challenging quote in a newsletter from singer Dallas Holm. I don’t recall the author, but it read:

“God is far more interested in who I am in Him than in what I do for Him.”

A similar idea is expressed in the saying, “God wants to work in you and on you before He can work through you.”

We began on the topic of God’s will. As we understand how God’s will bears on all that we are, think, say, and do, we may come to realize this: our lives and behavior can reveal more about us than we might expect. Matters such as how we value and practice gentleness, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, how well we control what we say, how we do or do not recognize and deal with a judgmental attitude, presumption, a critical spirit, prideful corners of our hearts, and complacency, or how we define and practice love, and the character of our humility and thankfulness. 

All of these questions can make us uncomfortable, and even disturbed at times. I suggest on good authority that God’s will may be exactly that: to place us where He can do His work.

For now I will close with a part of scripture that I believe is one of the Bible’s best expressions of worship and God’s will, Romans 12:1-2:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We will return often to Romans 12. I consider it a searchlight to the heart and a cornerstone to understanding the believer’s life and purpose. 

Your comments below are encouraged and welcome.

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