We spend a lot of time trying to determine God’s will for our lives. There are perhaps thousands of books on the subject, all aimed at helping the reader decipher the secret things of God’s will. Some of these books are helpful, but I would venture to guess that the overwhelming majority fall somewhere between unhelpful and complete nonsense.
Our fascination with God’s will for our lives is understandable. We’re not good with mystery, or patience, or discernment. But if we could just see that “one thing” God has in mind for us, then we will have real purpose in life. Right?
Wrong. Sort of.
I just don’t think it’s that simple.
For one thing. We know the will of God. Romans 12:2:
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.
God’s will is all that is good acceptable and perfect. And a Spirit-empowered transformation of our hearts and minds will help us to see the plain meaning of Scripture’s call upon our lives. It’s not hard to determine God’s will for your life if you are constantly, or at least seeking to live under the Spirit’s power.
But, if you would like a more specific call, something with meat on it, something that can really shape the way you live, Matthew 28:18-20 is a good place to go:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If you want a mission in life, consider this, the call of Christ to the first disciples and to every generation of people who call themselves Christian.
There are a lot of people who dig deeply into this text and write whole books about it. But it is also an incredibly easy passage to understand. Here are the main observations we need in order to make sense of it:
1. Jesus sends out the disciples in His authority (18). And this authority is, as he says, “all authority.” If that’s not a comforting statement, I don’t know what is. This means that what ever Jesus is sending them to, He is sending them to do it in His power, not theirs. He will be the strength behind the mission they take up.
2. Go near and far – Jesus says “go to all nations.” He doesn’t say, “go to other nations.” Jesus sends His disciples every, to their own nation and beyond. To their neighbors and co-workers and families, to other countries, other ethnicities and even to their enemies. This mission is to the benefit of all people.
3. Make disciples – And just to be sure there’s confusion about what this means, Jesus breaks it down for them. It means baptizing and teaching. In other words, it means seeking to see people converted by the gospel and then helping them grow. Our mission includes evangelism, missionary work, and what we normally consider discipleship. It is the comprehensive call to see the whole world come face to face with the risen Christ. This our mission.
4. Jesus never leaves us – There it is, as plain as day, throughout our lives, where ever we go, if we answer Jesus’ call, He will be with us until the end. We go in His power, under His authority, and with the goal of making more and more disciples who love and follow Christ. And Jesus will be with us through it all.
God’s will for our lives is that we join in this glorious mission. It may take us to the farthest reaches of the earth, and it may even take us to our death. But what is sure is that Christ has called us to this. He has called us to continue His mission on earth. He has called us to take Christ to the world. This is God’s will for your life. Will you follow?