The Knowable Will of God
But first, a quick story…
I grew up sharing a room with my younger brother. Like many of you (I assume), when we were young, keeping that room clean was not possible. It was important, however, to my parents. We spent a fair amount of time in trouble about it and would get quarantined in that little room with only one task: clean it up.
I can still remember the day Dad came home and after another frustrating check on our room said something along the lines of: Here’s what I want you to understand: Mom and I want your room clean. You can understand that. Take care of it. You don’t need to be told to keep it clean.
A Text Without a Context
In chapters 10 and 11 of Romans, Paul explains how God is weaving together and drawing Israel and the Gentiles (the Jews and the not-the-Jews) to Himself through Christ. It’s a beautiful plan, but it was a plan many Jews and Gentiles would struggle to accept. And no wonder! Historically, Israel has been almost everyone’s enemy! Now those enemies are going to get to share in the blessing and favor of God? That could be hard news to accept! Yet, Paul (a Jew) understands that it is indeed God’s will to draw all people to himself and thus was drawn into a ministry of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. The whole setting is so beautiful that Paul concludes chapter 11 with a doxology of admiration and praise of God’s wisdom, knowledge, and ability to draw all to Himself. This is the backdrop for chapter 12.
Paul begins chapter 12 in Romans with these words:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. — (Romans 12:1-2)
By starting with “I beseech you therefore,” Paul is saying, in light of what I have just said. Or, put another way, given this reality of God drawing all people to himself, I beg you to present your bodies…
A Matter of God’s Will
By presenting your bodies to God’s service and being transformed by the renewing of your mind, you prove God’s will; namely, His will as described in chapters 10 and 11.
Did you catch that last part of verse 2?
“That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Perhaps you have wondered, as I have, what God’s will is for my life? Should I go left or right? This job or that? Marry this person or another? Join that ministry? Give how much money? So many questions, and we have precious little confidence that we clearly know what God would have us do.
Alignment with the Almighty
Here in Romans 12, God’s will is this: that I might prove that through Jesus, God can draw everyone (even enemies!) to Himself through faith in Jesus. Presenting myself to God for His service (choosing to go by His plan) and not being conformed to the world (destroy your enemies before they destroy you) is how I go about it.
Recently, Dave shared a message on Mark 4 and said this: “You know far more of God’s will than you are willing to keep in your life.”
I think Dave is right, at least, I’m convinced that it is true of myself. I would be willing to bet it might be true of you, too. But does it have to stay this way? Of course not. Let’s be real here: my resistance isn’t going to prohibit God from accomplishing His will. God has invited you and me to join with Him in His work. Just as we can resist, we can also choose alignment with God’s will. Paul understood this, and so pleaded with the Romans to join him in the will of God. He even provided very clear direction on joining in on God’s will in verses 3-21 (as I talked about in my last post).
We might keep asking God what His will is for us, and I wonder if His response sounds something like my Dad’s did: “You know what I want…”