Connections 06.06.2012: Doing God’s Will

Mark 3:19b-35

We have probably heard people say, after they have decided upon a particular course of action, that they are going to do what they have decided to do because they believe it is God’s will. You may have said it yourself. I have.

What do people mean when they say that?

The best-case scenario is that they sincerely want to do what God wants them to do, and so they submit their pending decisions to God in prayer and ask God to guide them.

The worst-case scenario is that they have already decided what they want to do, and they just assume that God approves.

It’s arrogant to think that we can be sure what God’s will is. After all, we can’t know the mind of God. It’s too easy for us to fall into the trap of equating God’s will with our impulses, gut-level responses, self-centered desires, and limited worldview. It’s too easy for us to presume that God wants what we want.

And yet we must make choices and decisions, mustn’t we? We must decide about the ways we need to grow and the directions we need to go. We must decide between right and wrong and between what is good, better, and best. We must decide what we’re going to pick up and carry and what we’re going to put down and leave behind. We must decide between what matters and what matters most.

Given our limitations, how do we proceed?

This week’s Scripture passage tells us that we proceed by intentionally following Jesus. Mark tells us that when people report to Jesus that his mother and brothers and sisters want to see him, Jesus looks at those sitting around him and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (vv. 34-35).

The first step in doing God’s will is to commit to following Jesus. Why is following Jesus the first step toward doing God’s will? Because Jesus is God’s ultimate revelation of God’s self. God in God’s grace sent Jesus so we could have the best possible opportunity to know God and to do God’s will.

If following Jesus is the first step in doing God’s will, what is the next step? It is to keep following Jesus. So is the third step, the fourth step, and all the steps we will ever take. Our best chance at knowing and doing God’s will is to dedicate our lives to following Jesus, to listening to Jesus, to watching Jesus, and to learning from Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that if we follow Jesus, we will easily and automatically know and do God’s will. But it does mean that as we become more deeply immersed in the ways of Jesus, we will become more able to know and do God’s will. We grow in knowing that doing God’s will means loving, serving, and giving.

Discussion

  • Why would some of the scribes have accused Jesus of doing his good works for the devil rather than for God? What motives might they have had for saying this?
  • What does Jesus mean when he talks about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Why does he regard it as such a serious matter?
  • How can our lives demonstrate that we are committed to following Jesus?
  • What does it mean to be members of God’s family?
  • Do you think it is easy or difficult to do God’s will? Why?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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