When we come to Christ and receive Him as Savior and Lord, we surrender our will for His will. Before coming to Christ, we usually did what felt best. One of the benefits of coming to faith in Christ is His leading us in our daily living. Knowing God’s will for our lives at times might seem like a mystical adventure that is beyond the normal Christian’s reach. However, this way of thinking is contrary to what we find in Scripture. Christ taught, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). Then, we have this from the Book of James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). We, believers, are encouraged to ask, seek, and knock in confidence, knowing God will answer our prayers.
When we don’t know what to do, we are to ask God. Notice, “who gives generously to all without reproach.” The Apostle Paul, writing to the faith community in Rome, addresses this very issue. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies 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” (Rom 12:1-2). Here’s the point. Doing God’s will is not some super-Christian feat; it’s what God would have any everyday believer do.
So, how do we discern God’s will? How do we make choices that honor God? I like the imagery of a telescope to help me get a handle on the process of renewing my mind and, as a result, discern God’s will for my life. A refracting telescope has two or more lenses. I believe, for us to discern God’s will for our life we need to look through four lenses. These lenses are Foundation in Christ, ABC’s of Christianity, Model of Christianity, and Unique Role and Call. To fully understand what God’s will is for your life, takes a look through all four lenses. The problem is that all too often, the only lens that gets a look through is number four, Unique Role and Call. This is a significant error. The Christian who does not carry the DNA of a Christian will never be a healthy part of the “Body of Christ,” understanding his or her unique role and call. This leads to frustration and burnout.
The key to discerning God’s will is to look through the first three lenses (Foundation, ABC’s, and Model) before looking through the last lens (Unique Role and Call). I am going to give a summary of each lens. I know most of us are wired to like a sequential list, but here the telescope imaginary begins to break down a bit. What I am about to share is fluid. Think of it this way. Discerning God’s will is more a value-based journey than a task to be mastered. With that all said, let’s look through the lenses of our telescope to focus on God’s plan for our life.
If we are going to have a renewed mind, discerning God’s will, we have to reset our understanding of our foundation. The first lens is our Foundation. Jesus is our true foundation (1 Cor 3:11). He is the light that guides us to a straight path whenever we are in darkness.
We also need to understand the second lens that is the ABCs of Christianity. “A” is the Great Commission and Great Commandment. A disciple is a believer living out the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) and the Greatest Commandment (Matt 22:37-39). “B” is gaining a kingdom vision. Much is written about this kingdom vision throughout Scripture. Paul describes the Christian life or presenting a kingdom vision in Philippians 3:10-14. “C” is kingdom values or having a holistic Bible approach. The psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). God’s Word directs our steps. We need to know the Bible and walk in its truth.
Then, we have the third lens that is the Model of Christianity. Paul writes, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:1-2). Jesus is our ultimate model to follow. If you want to know what to do, start by finding out what Jesus did. Also, look to church history. For instance, the picture of the early church described in Acts 2:41-47.
Fourthly, we have the lens of our Unique Role and Call. We can understand our call in two tiers that we need to keep in alignment. We have our primary or common calling. We are to be disciples, who make disciples, wherever we are (Matt 28:18-20). Then we have our secondary call or callings. As Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). A believer must keep his or her unique secondary calling aligned to his or her primary calling to make disciples who make disciples. (2 Tim 2:2) This is true whether we are pastors, teachers, students, clerks, moms, and dads…you get the picture. It is also important to know your gifts, abilities, and passions (1 Cor 12, Rom 12:1-8, Eph 4:11-13). We all are unique. We are all called to make disciples. How that looks in your life and mine may be quite different.
How do we discern God’s will? We look through the four lenses. Then, we prayerfully and with godly counsel decide. It is essential to allow God’s Word to renew our thinking and then, prayerfully and with godly counsel, let God’s Spirit direct our steps. To this, let me add several principles. Believe God will guide you. Surrender your will to God’s will. Listen carefully for God’s voice. Wait on the Lord. And, obey when God and wherever God leads you.
I wonder what it would look like if, for just one day, every follower of Christ throughout the world would live each moment of just one day on mission with the Lord. After all, a disciple is a person who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus. To do God’s will is not for the Super-Christian; it’s what God would have any everyday believer do. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!